April 14, 2021


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He stood in such a row for the first time in the hot sun

At least four hundred people stood in long lines in the scorching sun of Chaitra. Women in one row, men in the other. During the Coronation period, there was no social distance in any row following the rules of hygiene. People have been standing for hours collecting oil, sugar and pulses from the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) trucks at below market prices.

After standing for three hours in a row, Abul Bashar Bhuiyan collected oil, sugar and pulses at around 2 pm. He said, for the first time in his life, he stood in a long line and bought products from TCB’s car.

In the words of Abul Bashar, his business came to an end in last year’s continuous lockdown in Corona. There was no income, but there was expenditure. There was some savings, it was over. The new war of life began. When it started to turn around again, the lockdown started again.

Abul Bashar’s village home is in Feni district. He came to Dhaka from Feni 30 years ago in search of work. Started small scale contracting business. Provides fire extinguishers to government and non-government organizations. Mugdar currently lives in a rented house with three daughters, a son and a wife. Abul Bashar’s four children are studying. The eldest daughter is in class XI, secondary and the youngest daughter is in eighth class. The boy went to kindergarten.

Changed life
Contractor Abul Bashar
Contractor Abul Bashar Photo: Asaduzzaman
When the panic spread among the people after the identification of Corona in the country on March 7 last year, Abul Bashar, like five others, also panicked. The lockdown started a few days later. The office-court is closed. At the same time, Bashar’s work was stopped. There was no income. However, the landlord had to pay Rs 15,000 in the first week of the month for rent. School-college was closed. Yet the three girls had online coaching. Coaching has cost at least 15 thousand rupees per month. And there was the cost of the world including rice, pulses, oil. Hard-earned money is spent on small-scale business.

Abul Bashar said in the first light, ‘He who has a family knows very well, if he does not have money, then what is the state of mind. I was disappointed when the business closed in Corona. My savings are all gone. What to do, how to walk, various worries fill the head. The lockdown has come again. Trade is also closed.

Corona was fine before
Before Corona, Bashar’s income was good. The average income per month was Rs. 1 lakh per month by supplying fire extinguishers to public and private offices. Since the onset of coronavirus, that income has now dropped below Rs 50,000. But the total cost of Bashar including house rent, education of children, household expenses is more than 60 thousand rupees. The rate of expenditure is much higher than the income as there is no business speed in Corona day after day. Abul Bashar has fallen into debt due to the situation.

The price of soybean oil in the market is 140 rupees per liter. There, the price of TCB oil is 100 rupees per liter. Abul Bashar came to Motijheel hoping to get oil, sugar, pulses and gram at a lower price than the market price. After standing in the sun for three hours, collecting oil and sugar and returning home, Bashar said, “There is no one in this city who is as helpless as he is without income.” Lack of income has increased my instability many times. There is no one to see people like us. ‘