Year after fire: Can Bangabazar traders overcome losses?

Sadia Islam Supti

Published: March 27, 2024, 04:32 PM

Year after fire: Can Bangabazar traders overcome losses?

Fire accident in Bangabazar: File Photo

In the wake of a tragic fire that engulfed Bangabazar last year during Ramadan, traders in the bustling marketplace have been grappling with the aftermath as the holy month returns. Despite hopes for a revival, the specter of last year‍‍`s loss looms large over this year‍‍`s Eid sales season.

A recent inquiry by Report.Live delved into the sentiments and experiences of several businessmen in Bangabazar, shedding light on the current business landscape ahead of the Eid festival.

Md. Shahadat Hossain, a cloth merchant, lamented, "Sales are relatively low." While there was a surge in customers following the tragic incident last year, he noted a noticeable decline compared to previous years.

Echoing similar sentiments, wholesaler Md. Abdur Sattar mentioned that sales had commenced around Shab-e-Barat, fifteen days before Ramadan, and have been ongoing since. However, he acknowledged a prevailing sense of sympathy among buyers following the devastating fire.

Businessman Md. Sumon highlighted the stark reality of dwindling sales, stating, "Previously daily sales ranged from Tk 2 to 4 lakh, but now there are almost no buyers."

The sentiments of shoppers further emphasized the challenges faced by traders. Sara, who had ventured from Basabo for Eid shopping, expressed disappointment, stating that despite perusing multiple shops, she struggled to find anything satisfactory.

Similarly, Beauty Begum, seeking to purchase three-piece widely known female attire of this country, voiced concerns over price hikes, lamenting, "You can‍‍`t buy many things even if you want to," citing limited collections and difficulty in finding desired items.

Compounding the woes of traders is the looming deadline set by the market committee, permitting business operations until the night before Eid-ul-Fitr. Following this, the existing market infrastructure is slated for demolition to make way for a new high-rise market facility.

Reflecting on the catastrophic fire incident that transpired in April last year, an investigation committee formed by the Dhaka South City Corporation revealed staggering figures of destruction. A total of 2,961 shops across the Bangabazar complex, including adjacent units like Gulistan, Mahanagar, and Adarsh, were ravaged by the flames. Additional damages were reported in Mahanagar Shopping Complex, Banga Islamia Market, and Banga Homeo Complex, totaling 3,845 shops.

The financial toll of the disaster, as per the South City report, amounted to Tk 303 crore, with goods losses exceeding Tk 288 crore and infrastructure damages reaching Tk 14 crore 70 lakhs. Moreover, the report underscored the immeasurable human and emotional toll on shop owners and employees, making it challenging to quantify the full extent of loss and joblessness endured by the community.

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