Complications in family card issuance marred the countrywide essential commodity sales by the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) on Wednesday. Thousands returned home empty-handed despite fulfilling all requirements on availing of the facility.
In some parts of the capital, sales began at noon with no complications while in other parts the process was delayed and even postponed as many of the eligible customers had not got their family cards, which is a requirement to buy goods from TCB.
TCB will sell sugar, lentils, and soybean oil at subsidised prices to one crore low-income families in the weeks leading up to Eid-ul-Azha, according to an earlier government announcement.
On the first day of the campaign, in South Begunbari, sales began at around 12.00pm and finished without any major impediments.
Nabi Hossain, a TCB dealer in the area, said, "There is no problem if someone failed to buy the products on Wednesday. As long as there are products in the store, cardholders can take them."
In Segunbagicha, sales were delayed as the authorities failed to issue family cards to customers.
Helalur Rahman, council office secretary, Ward-20 of Segunbagicha, told The Business Standard (TBS), "The dealer had received the goods. But the city corporation's regional office withdrew 4,093 family cards from the council office after two words 'Amader' and
'Mulniti' were found to have been misspelt in the card format. They are supposed to send back the cards, but have not yet."
He said it might take seven days for the cards to arrive.
However, as the number of customers increased in the area, the authorities instructed dealers at around 12.30pm to sell the products by keeping copies of the buyers' voter ID cards. Under the regulations, though, dealers are supposed to sell goods only to TCB cardholders.
Standing in the queue to buy goods, day labourer Nizam Uddin said, "It costs Tk410 to buy two litres of oil in the market. But here [TCB dealer's shop], two litres of oil, two kg of pulses and one kg of sugar are available at Tk405. That is why I have come to buy TCB products."
"We are poor people, income is low and the price of everything in the market is also increasing," he said.
Meanwhile, card complications resulted in a halt in TCB sales in Eskaton, while the process was delayed till 2.00pm in two wards of Mohammadpur.
Md Shahidullah, a TCB dealer at Ward-19 in Eskaton, said "I brought the goods from the TCB office on Tuesday afternoon and stored them in the shop. But I could not sell the products to anyone today because they did not have the cards."
Asked about this situation, the ward council authorities said customers in the area will have to wait till next Saturday to get the cards.
Ward Councillor Abul Bashar told TBS that the city corporation's regional office had withdrawn the customer card forms sent initially due to an error.
He said new forms were given to customers on Tuesday and were filled out overnight. About 1900 family card applications were sent to the city corporation office.
In Mohammadpur, the distribution of goods began at 2.00pm at the market near Lalmatia Boys High School and Suchona Community Centre in Ward-29. Cards were distributed among the families there in the morning.
TCB on Wednesday sold its products across the country, excluding Sylhet Division, and Madaripur, Shariatpur, Gopalganj and Munshiganj districts. In the capital, subsidised goods were sold in 40 wards under the two city corporations.