LAHORE: High prices of vegetables and fruits created havoc for citizens this week while most of the supply was short in the makeshift markets due to price fixation issue, Pakistan Today has observed.
The vendors cited closure of wholesale market due to Eid-ul-Azha and consequent dearth of supply, as all people including traders had gone to their native areas to celebrate Eid with their family. The vendors and retailers also said that a number of truckers had got themselves engaged in transportation of sacrificial animals around Eid, thus slowing down the pace of vegetable and fruit supplies to the market. The truckers are returning back slowly, they said.
Onion and tomato prices remained high this week and shoppers especially complained about them in Wahdat Colony Sunday Bazaar.
Ayesha Rehmat, a housewife and a resident of Shadman, said: “The price of onion has gone up to 100 per kg from Rs 40-50 per kg in 15 days. Similarly, price of tomato which was Rs 60-70 before Eid has jumped to Rs 120 per kg. This is an unprecedented rise as such uncontrolled fluctuation is meant to fleece the public. There is no one here to check the prices,” she said.
Another shopper Muhammad Ramzan, a resident of Mozang, said: “Onion and tomato are the most sought after items during Eid and after Eid, as people cook meat stored in fridges and freezers. Further, onion and tomato are also used in salads. Keeping this fact in mind, retailers exploit the citizens.”
Iftikar Ahmed, a resident of Anarkali said that the prices of fruits have also gone up. “The price of apple was Rs 80 to 100 per kg before Eid. It is now up to Rs 120 to 140 per kg. The same is the case with grapes.”
Trader Akbar Ali said that the price of onion increased sharply because supply from Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan has dropped. He said that the government is making efforts to import them from other countries to bring down the prices. This should have been done well before Eid-ul-Azha and the surge in demand, he lamented.
Akbar Ali said that the prices of fruits and vegetables will normalise next week as wholesale market will fully open and truckers will join them back as well.
On the other hand, officials of the city district government and town administration have kept silent over the issue of price hikes of fruits and vegetables, despite the fact that they had placed large banners at the entrance of most Sunday bazaars that display the controlled rates; however there seemed no effort by authorities concerned to ensure price regulation. Punjab Food Minister Bilal Yasin who used to visit Sunday bazaars and used to check prices of fruits and vegetables is not visiting them since he is busy in the election campaign of Kalsoom Nawaz in NA-120.
Moreover, vendors at Sunday bazaars were reported to cheat their customers by charging higher prices and under-weighing the merchandise.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Food Authority which was active before Eid does not seem engaged as rotten fruits and vegetables were seen being sold.