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Sunday, January 18, 2015, Magh 5, 1421, Robiul Awal 26, 1436 Hijr


Blockade wreaks havoc on economy
Export, communication, commodity supply worst-hit
Published : Sunday, 18 January, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 23
Mizanur Rahman
Transportation system in the country has collapsed due to continuous blockade and hartals (strikes). The movement of trucks and other vehicles has virtually stopped. Vegetables and fruits are rotting on the roads and farms. Goods carrying trucks, covered vans and container trailers are moving in extreme insecurity. Activities in the main ports of Chittagong and Mongla have also slowed down.
The Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) President Abdus Salam Murshedi said, "Trade and commerce are being seriously hindered. For non-delivery of commodities on time relations with buyers are souring. That has made the overall export sector stand face to face with challenges."
Enquiries revealed that because of the continuous blockade owners and workers of transport sector are incurring losses. Businessmen in this sector are gasping while paying interest on loans as their only source of income-buses and trucks-remain idle.
According to the Transport Owners Association, if 60,000 buses and minibuses of the country cease to ply for a day they incur a loss of Tk 48 crore and thousands of workers go without daily wages.
According to sources in the Bangladesh Bank Enquiries revealed that because of the continuous blockade owners and workers of transport sector are incurring losses. Businessmen in this sector are gasping while paying interest on loans as their only source of income-buses and trucks-remain idle.
According to the Transport Owners Association, if 60,000 buses and minibuses of the country cease to ply for a day they incur a loss of Tk 48 crore and thousands of workers go without daily wages.
According to sources in the Bangladesh Bank no new letter of credit (LC) has been opened during the last two weeks. If this trend continues banks will soon be in a negative position. Thousands of cargo vessels are stranded in ports and container glut is increasing in the land ports.
Commodity transportation system has collapsed and this is causing unusual price hike of commodities and as a consequence cost of living has increased considerably. Common people are in difficulty. In one month's gap price-inflation has increased.
According to sources, loading and unloading in both sea and land ports have stopped. This has caused jams of containers and ships. Businessmen have to pay additional charges for delay in clearance of commodities. The road transportation system has also collapsed. In normal times more than a thousand trucks carrying commodities entered Dhaka everyday whereas during the last one week fewer than 500 trucks have entered the city. As most of the long route buses have not been able to ply, sufferings of the common people have increased.
A leader of the Transport Owners Association said, "Till now more than 700 vehicles were burned across the country. They have incurred a loss of Tk 1,500 crore in the opposition called blockade till now. As many as 25 people have so far been killed and the number of injured has crossed 1,000."
Vehicle drivers are losing interest in carrying commodities because of lack of security of life. To come out of such a situation the common people are calling for a quick political solution of this crisis.
The Road Transport Agency Owners Association has warned that they would stop carrying commodities unless vandalism was stopped on the roads.
Because of setting fire to and breaking of transports in the name of blockade three transportation agencies have incurred losses of more than Tk 3 crore during the last one week. While attempting to transport commodities on unsafe roads they incur losses, they do not get any cooperation or compensation from the administration, they complained.
Dhaka City Commodity Transport Owners Association President Abdul Mannan said, "We are scared because of setting of fire to commodity carrying transports, breaking and looting those in continuous blockade and hartals (strike) since January 5."
Vice President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) M Shahidullah Azim said, "We have incurred Tk 550 crore in losses due to the continuous hartal and blockade for the last few days. About 20 per cent of the workers are unable to join duties every day. Buyers do not want to come to the country. They want us to meet them in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Delhi. Even if we go there they do not give us jobs as they use to do earlier."
They have reduced the number of orders, he added.
President of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association Mohammad Jasimuddin said, "In the name of hartal and blockade politics of destruction is going on in the country. Businessmen cannot accept this economy-destructive programme."
He said if transport sector cannot be kept active, import-export sector will be destroyed. If supply of industrial raw materials is not continued uninterrupted industrial production will reduce. This will make entrepreneurs go bankrupt. So, the government should keep strong vigilance on the transport sector.
Former president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) Fazlul Huq said, "Export is being hampered in hartals and blockades. Not only that, it is increasing cost of export too. It is causing delay in the export process. For not getting raw materials for production of commodities it is not being possible to keep industrial units in operation. Workers are sitting idle. Shipment is being delayed."









Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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