Traders wait for customers under the open sky at the Rajarhat rawhide market in Jashore. One of the biggest of its kind in the country, the market offers few facilities to traders.
Established in the 1980s, the market at present sees dealings of rawhides worth lakhs of taka but in the open market because it has hardly any roofed structure for the trade.
The market has involved more than 10,000 traders and workers in rawhide trading but has merely 200 warehouses to preserve their goods.
Due to insufficient facilities for rawhide preservation, traders are always at a risk of their goods getting damaged under the scorching sun or during the rainy season.
"Tanners who have warehouses can preserve their rawhides but other retailers have to struggle to protect their goods whenever it rains," said Riaz Uddin, a rawhide trader.
The economic impact of the market is substantial. Customers from Khulna's 10 districts, Dhaka, Natore, Faridpur, Rajbari, Gopalganj and Rajshahi come to this market to buy rawhides.
Sitting on every Saturday and Tuesday, the market sees commerce worth Tk15 lakh to Tk17 lakh every week. Even during the Eid-ul-Adha, rawhides worth more than Tk20 crore are traded in the market.
Even though the government earns as much as Tk40 lakh from the Khulna's largest rawhide market granted on lease, the authorities concerned pay little attention for its development, businessmen alleged.
Besides, accidents take place at times in the market area as it is located on the Jashore-Khulna Highway, they said.
During making a recent visit to the Rajarhat market, this correspondent found buying and selling activities were a bit low.
High quality rawhides of cows were selling at Tk700 apiece and that of lower quality were selling at Tk300 to Tk400. Hides of goats were selling at Tk50 to Tk60.
Traders said the market was undergoing a crisis at that time and so the amount of sales was low.
"We have talked to the Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) several times. But he seems to be reluctant to take any measures regarding developing the market," said Alauddin Mukul, general secretary of the Rawhide Traders' Association of Jashore.
The government's revenue from the market increases every year but the authorities concerned do not make improvements to it, businessmen said.
"In the past, we used to pay Tk20,000 to take the market on lease. Now, we pay Tk40 lakh but we need to do the dealings under the open sky," said Hasanuzzaman Hasu, a leaser.
Water stagnates here during the rainy season. No one wants to bring rawhides in the market at that time, he said.
"We have informed the local authorities several times but they did not take any action," he added.
Jashore UNO Mohammad Ibrahim said there is a clash between Zilla Parishad and Department of Roads and Highways over the market.
"For that reason, we cannot set up any roofed structure there," he said, adding "we will nevertheless take necessary steps to curb the sufferings of rawhide traders."