Meanwhile, police have said they are working with intelligence bodies to investigate whether anyone is spreading misinformation or trying to generate an artificial crisis of onions or even of salt and rice
With the onion crisis continuing unabated, seven registered importers have made it known that 600 tons of onions have arrived from abroad. However, the delay in unloading the shipments has now put them on the radar of the law enforcers.
Between December 1 and 10, 10 shipments with a total of 599.48 tons of onions arrived at Chittagong port from Pakistan and China. Given the mounting pressure on suppliers, a quick delivery of the onions to the markets had been expected. However, the unnatural delay in unloading the bulbs has had the police suspect that traders might be attempting to exploit the market.
Even the first shipment that arrived on Dec 1 has yet to be unloaded. While customs and other government agencies are expediting papers related to the onion shipments, it is the importers who seem to have been taking things easy, raising fears that the crisis may go on.
Abul Khair, manager of Nabina Fruits International, however denied the allegations and suggested that the relevant Clearing & Forwarding (C&F) agent, Amanat Shah Agency, be contacted in this regard.
For his part, Abul Kalam Azad, owner of the agency, said there had been no negligence on the agency’s part. He was dismissive of the allegations and blamed the Department of Agriculture for not releasing the imported onions.
“It is not the responsibility of the importing company to release goods,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, M Fakhrul Alam, customs commissioner of Chittagong Customs House, told Dhaka Tribune that a section of importers and C&F agents were yet to submit the necessary documents despite their shipments arriving weeks ago.
He said: “Some have not submitted their bills of entry, and some have submitted them without assessment reports. It is very suspicious. Our teams are working on it.”
Meanwhile, police have said they are working with intelligence bodies to investigate whether anyone is spreading misinformation or trying to generate an artificial crisis of onions or even of salt and rice.
“Police will take action on the basis of proper information or will assist other government agencies against those involved in any questionable activity,” said Md Haider Ali, assistant inspector general (Intelligence & Special Affairs) of Bangladesh police.
Prices of onions skyrocketed to a record Tk250 per kg last month, with little sign of coming down as unscrupulous traders have been taking advantage of the lax monitoring of the market by the government.