Moksed Ali, a porter in Karwan Bazar, used to sleep in a shared room in the market by paying only Tk25 per night, but recently he has been sleeping on footpaths to save money as his income has nearly halved during the last month.
He also sends less money to his family in Kumarkhali upazila of Kushtia because his income dropped from around Tk1,000 to Tk480 per day.
The income of the porters, who carry the shoppers' loads or the goods brought to the market by the wholesalers, in the Karwan Bazar area has dropped by half as people have been shopping less due to the recent price hikes.
On Wednesday, our correspondent found that whenever a customer bought something at the market, a bunch of porters surrounded her to carry her bags. Around 25 porters told this reporter that recently they have been finding fewer jobs in the market.
"Previously, many people used to call us to carry their shopping bags. Now people are shopping less as the prices of commodities have gone up. Many now carry their bags themselves, so our work has declined," said Moksed.
While Moksed's income decreased, his expenditure jumped.
He said currently three meals a day costs Tk300, which cost around Tk160-200 earlier. A plate of rice was Tk10 a month ago, but now it costs Tk15. The prices of omelet jumped from Tk20 to Tk25, a piece of fish from Tk40 to Tk60, paratha from Tk5 to Tk10, a cup of tea from Tk5 to Tk7.
Last month, Moksed took a loan of Tk50,000 from an NGO to support his family. He will have to pay Tk1,200 every week to repay the loan in 46 installments.
Rafiqul Islam, a porter hailing from Sirajganj said bathing in a public bathroom earlier cost Tk5, but currently it costs Tk10.
"Even a month ago, my daily income was around Tk1,000, which has now come down to Tk600-700, but Tk250 from that is spent on meals," said Rafiqul.
Sellers at grocery stores, butcher shops and fish markets in Karwan Bazar have said their sales have declined.
Hafizur Rahman, a beef seller in Karwan Bazar, said, "Meat of eight-ten cows were sold per day a month ago. Currently, I cannot sell even two cows a day."
Hasibul Islam, a seller of Janata Poultry House in the market, said, "Even 20 days ago, we used to sell 1,000 chickens every day, but now we sell only 600 chickens."
Ali Hossain, a seller at Yasin General Store, said the price of two kilogram of flour was Tk85 a month ago but now it is Tk116. Middle class and low-income people are buying less and less as the prices of essential commodities go up. A shopper who used to buy 4 kg flour now buys 2 kg.