Tents, food items fall victim to profiteering

Philanthropists, welfare organisations coughing up thousands more to buy life saving essentials for flood affectees

Aamir Khan/RAZZAk ABRO August 30, 2022
A sheep tucks its head under a plastic sheet a family is holding to save itself from incessant downpour in Sindh. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE


As flood affectees in Sindh wait desperately for relief in the form of shelter and food, profiteers are having a field day at their expense by pricing essentials like tents and vegetables out of reach with no check and balance from the government whatsoever.

Philanthropists and welfare organisations are especially perturbed by the fact that the prices of the items they want to buy, to aid the populace left devastated by floods, have skyrocketed in the past few days - with some alleging that the shortage was artificial just so higher rates could be demanded.

Commenting on the situation, Naveed Ali Baig, who heads Al-Khidmat, Karachi, said that presently tents were priced anywhere between Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000. “However, even at these prices there is a shortage. In some markets tents have totally disappeared and are not even available at double the price,” informed Baig. Similarly, Asif Iqbal, member of a local group of philanthropists, informed that it was nearly impossible to find tents in Karachi at the moment.

However, Abdul Rasheed, a local who is helping out flood affectees, was of the view that the tents are available but only at the right price. “If you can cough up between Rs 10,000 and Rs 28,000 then you will certainly find the tents,” remarked Rasheed. He further alleged that even the tents given by welfare organisations and the government were being sold in the market. “The profiteers have left no stone unturned in exploiting those providing relief efforts.” Volunteer of a local welfare organisation, Zaid, concurring with the allegations, added that even plastic sheet tents were being sold for Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000. “Not only the tents but even mosquito nets which were previously for Rs 300 are now being sold for Rs 1,500,” Zaid said in disgust.

However, sales manager of a tent manufacturing factory in Karachi, Muneer Pathan, denouncing the allegations said that waterproof canvas fabric tents which could give shelter to 8 people were being sold for Rs 18,000. Pathan further informed that he was not aware of any shortage as they were “producing up to 3,000 tents daily.” The supervisor of another tent manufacturing factory in the area, Shiraz, concurring with Pathan’s information, said that currently 300,000 tents of various sizes were being manufactured at his factory.

“If there is a shortage it is because of non-availability of raw-materials. However, this too can be sorted if the government coordinates with us and ensures a proper supply of materials so we can meet demand,” he suggested.Commodities priced out of reachIt is not only tents whose prices have increased drastically. Mohammad Nawaz Soho, who is associated with the milk business in Hyderabad, told the Express Tribune that milk was being sold for Rs 200 per kg. “30 to 40 percent of milk in Karachi is brought from Hyderabad, Thatta, and Sajawal. However, due to the flood in rural Sindh, the supply of milk has been affected and prices have shot up,” Soho informed. Similarly, vegetables have also been priced out of reach. Anas Ghangharu, a journalist from Sukkur, lamented that tomatoes were being sold at Rs 350 to Rs 450 per kg. “Meanwhile eggplant and lady fingers are being sold anywhere between Rs 150 to Rs 170 per kg.” However, while Ghangharu can still find vegetables, Muhammad Nawaz, a resident of Dokri says that no vegetables apart from potatoes are available in his town. Nawaz further said that he could not even commute to another city to buy essential items as transporters were charging exorbitant fares. “It used to cost Rs 800 from Dokri to Jamshoro before the flood, now the fare is Rs 1,800,” said a visibly upset Nawaz.

Adviser to Chief Minister Sindh, Waqar Mehdi, when asked about the price gouging and shortages in the province, said that the government was working with everyone to provide relief. “We will come out of this situation soon. We are working on an emergency basis to provide food and shelter to flood affectees,” Mehdi told the Express Tribune.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2022.


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