Visitors at Amar Ekushey Book Fair are disappointed at excessive food prices charged by food courts that are leased out to private caterers.
They complained that food menu rates varied from one food shop to another, making them confused as well as suspicious of the food quality.
Although caterers claim that food prices varied due to quality, consumers rejecting it. Some visitors even thought that they were being cheated by the caterers.
For the entire fair period, five catering service providers, Hamza Fastfood and Kabab Fair, Nirapod Food Court, Hot Food, Swapno Catering Service and Metro Bakers, took lease of six food courts on Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan premises.
Hamza Fastfood and Kabab Fair along with Bangla Academy Employees’ Union and Swapno Catering Service were operating Bangla Academy canteen’s two food courts on the academy premises.
Several consumers said that they had felt being cheated as they paid the food bill at a Bangla Academy canteen’s food court leased by Hamza Fastfood and Kabab Fair and BAEU.
‘There was no visible menu chart with food price listed there. Food bearers were charging on their whims and embarrassed the consumers if were challenged,’ said Shariful Islam, a university student accompanying two friends to the fair.
Comparing menu rates of other food courts, it was found that Hamza Fastfood and Kabab Fair charged higher food prices for the same item.
Metro Bakers charges Tk 15 for a cup of coffee, Swapno Catering Service charges Tk 25 while Hamza Fastfood and Kabab Fair charges Tk 30.
The price of a single plate phuchka is Tk 100 at Hamza while Nirapod and Swapno charge Tk 70, and Metro Bakers charges Tk 55.
When other caterers charge Tk 15 for a parata and Tk 15 for 500ml water bottle, Hamza charges Tk 20 for each item.
Rupak Saha, owner of Swapna Catering Services, seeking a common price rate, said that he had informed the fair organising committee about the differences in food pricing.
Fair organising committee’s member secretary and Bangla Academy director Jalal Ahmed told New Age that unscrupulous business by the food caterers was embarrassing for the authorities too.
‘A sub-committee, formed after receiving food consumers’ complaints, fixed a common food prices on Sunday,’ he said.
All the caterers would be compelled to follow the common price chart from Monday, he added.
On Sunday, 102 new titles hit the fair stalls.
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