ISLAMABAD: Though the four “Sasta bazaars” and the weekly Sunday bazaars set up by the Capital Development Territory (CDA) drew large crowds on Sunday, the customers were irked by the quality and prices of everyday commodities.
Khursheed Begum complained that the price of okra (bhindi) had increased to Rs50 per kg compared to Rs46 a few days ago.
“Everything should be made cheap,” said Begum said. “If the government reduces the price of one commodity, another is made expensive.”
The stalls at the Sasta and Sunday bazaars present a relatively deserted look due to limited range and high prices. PHOTO: WAQAS NAEEM/EXPRESS
Noor Muhammad said that the quality of mangoes sold at the G-7/2 Sasta bazaar was poor despite them being less expensive than the ones at commercial markets.
“It is a hard bargain,” said Muhammad. “I am buying these because it is difficult to afford the better quality fruits.”
Most vegetable vendors at the bazaars across Islamabad lamented the losses they incurred on Sunday from selling tomatoes.
The CDA bazaars’ administration sent the price list to vendors on Saturday at 3pm, putting the rate for one kilogram tomatoes at Rs94. But on Sunday, when the price of tomatoes in the wholesale vegetable market at I-11 dipped, the administration decided to follow the decrease and, at 11am, updated the price list and fixed it at Rs76 per kilo. Similarly, the Sasta bazaars’ control committee revised their price list for tomatoes to Rs70 per kilo.
The Sunday and Sasta bazaars’ administrations claimed they took the vendors on board before making the changes.
The vendors, on the other hand, refuted this claim. At the G-6 Sunday bazaar, vendors said that they protested when they heard about the price change. The administration officials said that they would be in trouble with their bosses if prices were not adjusted, they claimed.
“I am losing Rs18 per kilo on the tomatoes,” said Muhammad Irfan, a vegetable vendor. “We bought the tomatoes at the higher price so it is a sure loss.”
One crate of tomatoes costs around Rs700 and contains around 8 kilos of the vegetable, said Irfan.
At the base rate of Rs76 per kilo, instead of making the Rs8 per kilo profit that they had expected, the vendors came up short by Rs92 per crate.
The administration officials said they understood it was tough on the vendors but had to prioritise relief for the public.
Quality and Price Control
Even though the CDA administration has set the per-dozen price for Pakistani and Indian bananas at Rs120 and Rs140 respectively, the same varieties were being sold for Rs150 and Rs200 at various markets including Aabpara Market. Similarly, Karachi Company vendors were charging an additional five rupees per kilo on onions against the rate fixed by the administration.
The CDA administration said in a statement that officials carried out price checking in some parts of the capital on Sunday and issued fines amounting to Rs81,300.
G-6 Sunday bazaar officials said that food inspectors, assistant commissioners and CDA health inspectors visited markets regularly to check on the quality of food items.
But Najma Ilyas, a resident of Sector G-6, was still not satisfied.
“The vegetables were expensive at the Sunday bazaar today and the quality wasn’t good either,” she said. “Prices in the commercial markets are high, but they have better stuff.”
Yet, some customers, like Pervez Mahesar, left the G-6 Sunday bazaar with a smile.
“The peaches are being sold for Rs90 per kilo compared to the commercial rate of Rs120,” said Mahesar, a PhD student at Quaid-e-Azam University. He said he had saved Rs100 per kilo on dates.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2013.