Bangladesh

Coronavirus: Tangail small traders pass hard days as sales drop

Abdus Sattar, a small trader selling wooden chairs and tables beside a road in Tangail town, is struggling for survival for the last four months as the number of buyers sees a drastic fall due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

The 55-year old man from Pathrail village in Delduar upazila has already borrowed Tk 30,000 from others to feed his family.

"Normally I earned Tk 500 to Tk 700 from selling seven to ten chairs and tables in a day. Now I can hardly sell one or two as my usual customers, mostly students and low-income people living at hostels and messes, left for their villages due to closure of educational institutions and workplaces a couple of months ago.

"How can I survive in such a situation?" he said.

Four others who sell furniture at the same place are in the same boat.

Abdul Koddus of Mirer Betka area runs a video business at Victoria Road in the town.

"People hired me for making video clips of various programmes including wedding parties. But I did not get a single order in the last three months as social programmes and parties are virtually stopped due to the coronavirus," he said.

"I could not pay rent, electricity and gas bills of my shop during the time. Now I am feeding my four-member family by borrowing money from friends and relatives. I am seeking a job but to no result," he added.

Mintu Khan, owner of a decorator shop in Dhaka Road area of the town, is passing a hard time as he is not getting any order for the last couple of months.

"My employees have already left the job as I could not pay them in the last three

months. I have also loans from NGOs. The coronavirus has ruined my business," said the 60-year-old man, already sick amid tension about the situation.

Mohammad Ali, a fruits vendor in Bus Terminal area of the town, returned to his village after local administration declared lockdown in the district town on March 25 to prevent coronavirus infection.

"I maintained my family in the last four months with my little savings and the small payments that I got by working as a harvesting labourer at Boro paddy fields of my village. I want to return to the town for restarting my business but I don't have any capital for it," he added.

Mizanur Rahman Khan Mithu, owner of a steel-made furniture shop at Zila Sadar Road in the town, said sales saw an abnormal drop during the last few months due to the highly infectious disease. 

"I am worried about maintenance of my big family as sale has not come to a normal despite easing of the lockdown. Mainly the middle-class people are buyers of my item but they are short of money now," he added.     

Like them, hundreds of small traders are living in grave uncertainty over their livelihood due to the pandemic.

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