Small-micro traders in crisis, on the way to an uncertain future!

Nazmul Hassan Sagar, Staff Correspondent,, Dhaka
ছবি: বার্তা২৪.কম

ছবি: বার্তা২৪.কম

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Several floating shops have sprung up in the empty space at the main gate of Suhrawardy Udyan. Badsha Mia sells rice here. This small trade is the only source of income for his family. Visitors to the park, DU students and workers of various professions are its buyers. He and his wife cooked food from Mirpur and sold it here. Corona's time has made it difficult to run his business. As public transport is closed in the lockdown, his one-day profit ends when he brings food in a van!

On Tuesday (June 29) at noon, the trader expressed his frustration with his livelihood.

Recalling the blockade period of last year, he added, "When the business was closed in the last lockdown, I was able to survive on my family with the money I saved." Now I am doing business with loan money. I can't think what to do when everything is completely closed after two days! Eid ahead, I can't find any option thinking about how to keep the business closed at this time.

Monirul Islam trades in old shoes on the pavement of Panthapath in the capital. The business has been running like a 'thief-cop game' since the day the ban was imposed, he said.

Monirul said he had to hide after closing the shop after seeing the police several times since morning. Business cannot be done in this way. From morning till all day, but after evening the police do not allow the shop to open. But my sale is only after evening. The store may have to close completely from July 1 due to the lockdown. Then how to proceed? Big businessmen get incentives, get public, private loans - they survive. We are businessmen, even if we die without eating the body cannot be buried due to lack of money. The government should provide stimulus for us.

Police arrived shortly after noon on Tuesday to pick up tea and cigarette vendors. The big shops were also being closed. Seeing all this, Mamun, a tea and cigarette seller at Dhanmondi bus stand No. 15, said that they closed the shop after arranging for us to eat. Do not eat or shop again, how is this justice?

Such small and floating traders suffer the most when there is a lockdown. Many have spent their savings in past lockdowns. They now have only the ‘business attitude’. The face of profit is rarely seen. Again, many have become poor in the past lockdowns and have started business again by borrowing.

Aziz Mia, in his forties, sells clothes in a van next to Anand Cinema Hall in Farmgate. "We are in a very uncertain future and life, Dad," said the businessman. We are now destitute as business has been closed for a few times.  There is a heavy burden of debt on the head. My friend, a local businessman, died of a heart attack due to debt anxiety. Thinking about all this, I don't like anything else. No one helps us. I do not expect anyone's cooperation!

In such a situation, economists are talking about ensuring food for these traders first. However, they also expressed fears that the future of the country's economy will be in jeopardy if it continues like this for a long time.

Golam Rahman, president of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), told that first such low-income traders need to ensure food. Then the government can make arrangements like providing emergency allowance with special consideration. In this scary situation, the government should bring the working and poor people under the safety net program. The government must ensure the livelihood of these people with security.

Lockdown is taking place from time to time and such traders are running out of money. They are also a part of the economic chain of the country. Asked what the future would look like if the chain was destroyed, the economist said all people's incomes had fallen. According to the study, the income of 77 percent of the people in this condition has decreased. 37 percent of people have lost their jobs. Since it is not a man-made disaster, no one can say when or how it will be resolved. However, if everything is blocked in this way, the situation will become chaotic in the near future.

Economist and rights activist Professor Anu Mohammad suggested compiling a list of low-income businessmen and bringing them under incentives.

He told that such small and floating traders can be brought under their incentives by making a list. Many will say how to list them? It's a very simple matter. They can be listed through organizations like city corporations, municipalities, district administrations and union councils. This is nothing new. In other countries of the world, the state takes responsibility for such citizens on certain days of lockdown and provides them with various types of financial support over a period of time. In our country it is possible and we can afford it.