The market of corrugated iron (CI) sheets in Chattogram has witnessed an uptrend over the past month with their demand picking up.
In November, prices of CI sheets shot up by Tk5,000-8,000 per tonne, depending on quality.
Agents and wholesalers claimed that despite sufficient stocks in the factories, the factories have increased prices of CI sheets to make extra profits.
Construction work mostly goes on in October-March. This construction item's prices increase during December-February every year when its demand soars, they added.
This time's hike is more than in any time before, they said, terming it "abnormal".
Prime quality per tonne – 175 pieces and 42mm thick – of CI sheets is sold at Tk80,000 at the factory gate. A month ago, the same quality CI sheets were sold in the market at Tk77,000 per tonne.
Prime quality 32 mm (medium) CI sheets are being sold at Tk80,000 per tonne (224 pieces). A month ago, CI sheets of the same quality were sold in the market for only Tk75,000-76,000.
The 32mm colour CI sheets of the same quality are being sold for Tk95,000 per tonne (224 pieces), which was sold at below Tk90,000 a month ago.
A month ago, prime quality thin CI sheets were sold at Tk36-Tk37,000 per tonne (282 pieces), which is currently being sold at Tk39,000. The prices of prime quality CI sheets have increased to Tk4,000-5,000 per tonne in the last one month.
Meanwhile, among the CI sheets sold on weights, BRO-class CI sheets are currently being sold at Tk92,000-93,000 per tonne. A month ago, the prices of the same quality CI sheets were only Tk85,000.
Last month, B-class CI sheets were sold at Tk77,000-78,000 per tonne, which is now sold for Tk84,000-85,000.
Similarly, C-class CI sheets were sold at Tk68,000-69,000 per tonne last month. At present, the same quality CI sheets are being sold at Tk75,000.
The prices of CI sheets sold on weight have gone up to Tk7,000-8,000 per tonne over the last one month.
An official of the CI sheets manufacturing plant, wishing anonymity, said the factories produce CI sheets throughout the year, targeting the dry season. But the demand for CI sheets has been falling consistently since the end of March due to the long stagnation in construction for the Covid-19 pandemic.
Abdur Razzak, a CI sheet trader and owner of Ismail Trading in Chattogram's Asadganj area, said although factories have adequate stocks of CI sheets, owners have increased prices to make up the losses they faced for Covid-19 crisis, capitalising on the increased demand.
Deepak Talukder, marketing officer of NGS Group, a CI Sheet manufacturer, said the production of CI sheets in the factories continued this year, but the volume of sales was meagre due to Covid-19. So, companies have increased the prices of CI sheets to make up the loss during the peak season of construction.
Tariq Ahmed, executive director of TK Group, which manufactures Eagle brand corrugated iron, said sales of CI sheets for the long seven-eight months of this year were very low due to the pandemic. During this time, the factories continued their production at a loss and paid salaries to their workers.
''To offset the losses caused by Covid-19, we have been forced to increase the prices of the construction item with the demand going up,'' he said.
Moreover, the demand for raw materials for the production of CI sheets has increased over the last two-three months, he added.
There is a demand for CI sheets from PHP (Arabian horse), KDS (KY brand), S Alam (rooster brand), Abul Khair (cow brand), NGS (Laddu brand), TK Group (Eagle brand) and Chamon Steel in Chattogram markets.