Truck fare increased by 20pc, vegetable price also on the rise

Vegetable prices rose more compared to the increase in truck fare. Traders are reasoning this with their living cost going up

File photoProthom Alo

It was 12.00am and the vegetables laden trucks started arriving at Karwan Bazar’s wholesale market. Some carried sponge gourd, some pointed gourd while some others carried a collection of different vegetables.

Truck driver Abdul Momin brought various vegetables like ladies finger and bitter gourd from Bogura.

He told Prothom Alo that it took about 90 litres of diesel for his 3.5-ton truck to travel to and from Dhaka.

He had to spend Tk 10,260 to buy diesel as per new price fixed by the government, which is Tk 3,060 more than the day before.

According to this truck driver, the fare of a 3.5-ton truck transporting vegetables from Bogura to Dhaka has risen up about Tk 3,000. Till now, the fare was around Tk 12,000. After the hike of diesel price, a fare of about Tk 15,000 is being charged.

Talking to truck drivers at the Karwan Bazar area from 12.00am to 5.00am early on Monday it was learnt that the truck fare on different routes have gone up by 20 to 25 per cent following the fuel price hike.

Traders say effects of this are showing on the prices of vegetables as well. Vegetable prices have gone up both in the wholesale and retail markets.

Prices of comparatively cheaper vegetables have increased by Tk 5 on a kilogram while prices of the pricy ones have risen up to Tk 20 in the retail level.

This is not entirely because of the truck fare; related issues like demand and supply are there too. Traders are also saying that their living costs have increased as well and they are charging a bit extra for that.

Let’s take popular vegetable eggplant for an example. Roaming kitchen markets in Dhaka’s Kathalbagan, New Market and Mohammadpur Krishi Market area, round eggplant of premium quality were seen selling at Tk 80 to 90 per kilograms. Retail sellers are saying the same eggplants were sold for Tk 60 to 70 a kg, just two days back.

The increase in truck fare

The government hiked the diesel and kerosene prices by Tk 34 per litre, petrol price by Tk 44 and octane price by Tk 46 on Friday night.

Trucks from different districts carried vegetables to Karwan Bazar on Saturday, buying fuel oil at an increased rate following this record hike.

Talking to truck drivers who brought vegetables from Bogura, Rajshahi, Chuadanga, Kushtia, Meherpur, Jashore, Satkhira and Munshiganj, it was found that, the hike in fares varied based on the distance and loading capacity of the truck.

As per narratives of the truck drivers, the fare basically increased by 20 to 25 per cent.

For instance, those trucks (3.5-ton) coming from Chuadanga are spending about an extra Tk 4,000 on fuel oil in the commute. They are collecting that extra money from the vegetable traders.

A truck trip from Chuadanga to Dhaka used to cost Tk 15 to 16 thousand earlier. But, now the same fare has escalated to about Tk 20,000.

A truck driver named Md Sujan who came to Dhaka from Chuadanga with bottle gourd, pointed gourd, snake gourd, dragon fruit and guava said to Prothom Alo, for the time being only the increased fuel cost is being charged in addition to the fare.

But, the fare will go up a bit more as there are other related expenditures that escalate in line with the fuel cost. Later, the truck owners will fix that through discussions with the traders.

Impact of truck fare

Vegetables start selling at the Karwan Bazar wholesale market from the midnight. Truck drivers usually spend time at the nearby tea stalls, parking their trucks at a suitable spot.

Truck drivers and middlemen were heard talking about the diesel price and truck fares among themselves at some of those tea stalls. Most of them expressed anger over the diesel price being hiked by Tk 34 per litre at a time.

While taking tea at one such stall late on Sunday night, Asraful Islam, a truck driver coming from Jhenaidah said to Prothom Alo, he had to count an extra Tk 3,500 on fuel oil.

Reviewing Asraful Alam’s expenditure, the extra cost on truck fare for each kilogram of vegetable stood at around 32 paisa. But, vegetable prices increased even more in the wholesale market.

Middleman Rakibul Islam said to Prothom Alo, along with the farmers and labour expenditure, living cost of his own family has also increased. All of these will be added to the vegetable price.

Retail prices rose more

On Saturday night, green beans were seen selling at Tk 38-40 per kilogram, pointed gourd at Tk 20-25, taro root at Tk 35-40, snake gourd at Tk 30-32, sponge gourd at Tk 34-35 and green papaya at Tk 15 at Karwan Bazar wholesale market.

Medium-sized bottle gourds each were selling for Tk 22 to 25. This rate is Tk 2 to 10 extra on a kilogram in some cases or other cases.

Visiting the kitchen markets of Kathalbagan, New market and Mohammadpur Krishi Market on Sunday, seasonal vegetables such as pointed gourd, taro root, sponge gourd and green beans were seen selling at Tk 60 to 70 per kg on the retail level. Retailers were asking Tk 40 for the same green papaya that was sold for Tk 15 at Karwan Bazar wholesale market.

Nur Mohammad, a retailer of capital’s Mohammadpur Krishi Market said to Prothom Alo, vegetable prices rose by Tk 5 to 10 at Karwan Bazar alone.

It costs them Tk 1,500 instead of Tk 1,000 to transport vegetables on a pick-up truck from Karwan Bazar. They are calculating the extra price on the vegetables including all of these, he added.

Concerned people said that vegetable prices go up on an average when other expenditures including truck fare are raised.

That's why during pick season, even if the price of a vegetable is reduced to Tk 5 at the farmer level, it sells at least at Tk 30 in the retail markets of Dhaka, they claimed.