6 years ago

Behind meatless Dhaka

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Dhaka City has passed almost a meatless week on account of the strike called by the Bangladesh Meat Traders' Association and the Dhaka Metropolitan Meat Traders' Association. Meat lovers certainly did not take the decision in good grace. But the striking meat traders have said something that may pour honey into the meat eaters' ears. The traders claim that price of beef could be brought down below Tk 400 a kilogram if their four-point demands are met. Allowing them to import cattle from neighbouring Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan would further slice the price below Tk 300. 
The meat traders of the capital, according to them, were forced to go on the strike because of the raw deal they were served on a regular basis. Accusing fingers have been pointed at lessees of the Gabtoli cattle market for collection of excessive levy, their high-handedness and even repression. They also blame a few officials of the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) for their indulgence in corrupt practice for the reigning chaos and corruption at the cattle market. 
The four-point demands concern taking action against vested quarters which have made a hell of their life. Cancellation of lease of Gabtoli cattle market, trial of a person who runs an illegal money transfer business known as 'hundi', action against two DNCC officials and dismantling of the syndicate of dishonest tanners are the demands made by the meat traders. Their demands sound logical. Wherever there is transaction of money, parasite-like middlemen and musclemen consolidate their position in order to eat the cream. Their guile and craftiness prevail over the hard work and honesty of traders and labourers there. Bus terminals, cattle markets and footpath trade are no exception to such undesirable but ruthless intervention. 
Secretary general of the Bangladesh Meat Traders' Association has come up with a most poignant statement in that he presents the picture as, "We believe in customers after Allah, but now we slaughter them with cattle for money". Back to their wall, the traders could no longer put up with the ruthless exploitation. So they have to take recourse to the ultimate weapon, 'strike' that is, in their arsenal. 
It brings obliquely to the fore the system's weakness. If the greedy lessees, middlemen engaged in harassing cattle and meat traders and tanners' syndicate can be eliminated from the system, meat like beef and mutton price will fall drastically. The outrageous high levy and even extorted money are ultimately passed on to consumers and this makes meat so costly. 
In the forthright confession of meat traders, the truth behind the cattle trade has emerged. Now it is the turn of the authority to act expediently. Proper investigations should be ordered immediately against the persons accused. It is not difficult to find out whether the persons mentioned by name for their murky role are really guilty or not. Their unearned money cannot be hidden. 
The meat traders' grievance is not unrelated to consumers' interests. If their grievance is addressed, meat trade will become clean and transparent. This can be done because this is a trade that has come down to them through generations like the ancestral tradition of fish trade. If the undesirable elements can be thrown out of such trades, it will open up an avenue to do the same from other businesses as well.

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