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Queues at OMS outlets grow longer

Inadequate supply of rice forces many to return empty-handed

Staff Correspondent

People crowd an OMS outlet for rice at Panthapath in the capital Dhaka on Tuesday. — New Age photoPeople crowd an OMS outlet for rice at Panthapath in the capital Dhaka on Tuesday. — New Age photo

Queues of low income people at open market sale outlets in the capital was growing longer after rice price started increasing on the market for what traders said inadequate supply caused by strikes and blockades.
Consumers alleged that wholesale and retail prices of coarse rice had increased by Tk 3 per kilogram in last one month while traders blamed frequent strikes and blockades for the poor supply of rice.
On Tuesday, many consumers were seen returning empty-handed from different outlets at Mirpur, Jurain, Badda, Panthapath, Modhubagh and Shantinagar because in most of the outlets rice was sold out by midday.
Tarek Hossain, a CNG-run auto-rickshaw driver who was waiting in the queue at the mobile OMS outlet at Panthapath, said he could hardly afford to buy rice rice from the market now because the price of coarse rice had increased to Tk 36 per kg from Tk 32 last month.
OMS dealer Akhter Hossain at Shewrapara bus stand outlet said they had finished selling rice and flour by 11:00am.
He said that during the same period last year when rice prices went up on the market, some 250 mobile OMS units sold rice among low income people at 147 spots in the city, but this year the number of outlets decreased to 39.
Akhter said that this year the authorities had also slashed allocation of rice adding that he was getting 25 sacks containing 1250 kilograms of rice and 1250kg of flour per day for OMS sale whereas the amount of rice supplied was more than 5500 kilograms last year.
Rozina, a domestic help living in Panthapath area, alleged that the salesmen at the outlet were charging the buyers Tk 10 more than the price of one kg of flour fixed by the authorities.
She said that her husband who is a day labourer had no work in the days of hartal and blockade and the five-member family was now depended on her income only. Rozina said she bought rice twice a week from the outlet.
Setara Banu, a housewife living in Madhubagh area, said she had come to the outlet around 7:00am so that she could buy rice when they started selling.
Earlier on Sunday, she had returned empty-handed after waiting in the queue for hours. She said the authorities should increase the allocation of rice and flour for OMS sale among poor people.
The government launched OMS sale of rice on December 25, 2010 to ease the pressure of price hike on low income people of the capital and different divisional cities.
OMS rice is sold at Tk24 a kilogram with one person being able to buy five kilograms each day.
Dhaka rationing chief controller Sukumar Barua said they had written to the director general of food seeking an increased allocation of rice.
He said that on Tuesday they had operated 39 outlets mounted on trucks which contained 49 metric tonnes of rice and 47.5 metric tonnes of flour.
Due to supply shortage on the market, rice price has increased in recent weeks forcing an increasing number of low income people to crowd different OMS outlets in the capital, he said.

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Queues at OMS outlets grow longer

People crowd an OMS outlet for rice at Panthapath in the capital Dhaka on Tuesday. — New Age photo
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