All businesses from and to Myanmar through Maungdaw has remain closed for almost two months in the wake of recent military crackdown on Muslim minority community Rohingya in the neighbouring country.
Small business owners in the country and workers involved in handling imported goods at Teknaf land port are hit hard by the shutdown of the business route.
Maungdaw is one of the three points in Myanmar through which trading between Bangladesh and Myanmar take place from Teknaf land port. Maungdaw is the closest from Teknaf land port. Businessmen prefer to trade through Maungdaw as it reduces transportation cost and time.
The two other trading points are Yangon and Akyab which increases the transportation time by seven and four days respectively, according to local businessmen.
Almost half the workers involved in handling goods at Teknaf land port have lost their jobs in the wake of the fall in business, they said.
‘Workers are now living from hand to mouth. They cannot afford to wait for the business to resume,’ Ali Asgar, a worker leader at the port, said while talking to New Age.
According to him, there were about 350 workers engaged in work at the port on Tuesday.
‘About 600 workers used to work here. They stopped coming here as there is not enough work for all of them,’ Asgar added.
Fish, dried fish, chutney and logs are the main import products traded through Maungdaw. The main export products include cookware, garments, cement, and food products.
Dried fish imported through the land port meets over half the country’s total demand for it, C&F agent Abdur Rahim said. In the last two months, the dried fish import fell down by 75 per cent, he said.
‘Now businessmen are required to import fresh and dried fish via Yangon and Akyab which requires a lot of time and money,’ said Rahim.
‘Those with small investment are finding it impossible to afford the transportation cost,’ he said.
At least a hundred tonnes of fresh fish were usually being imported daily before the beginning of recent violence in Myanmar, Workers’ leader Asgar said. Now that
amount of fish is not imported even in a week, he said.
The fall in the business is reflected in the collection of travel tax as the lion’s share of travellers from Bangladesh to Myanmar is businessmen.
On an average, the government’s customs, excise and VAT department office at the land port collect
Tk 3 lakh a month as travel tax.
‘The collection was zero in November while a little over taka nine thousand in October,’ said Abdul Mannan, revenue officer of the department.
According to him, big investors survived the situation as they have already diverted their import route to Yangon and Akyab from Maungdaw. ‘That’s why my department could manage to meet its target for revenue collection which was Tk 27 crore between July and November,’ Mannan said.
It was on October 10 when the Maungdaw business route collapsed. The Myanmar military launched a massive military operation after its border outpost in Maungdaw came under insurgent attack on October 9. The military drive is turning out to be genocide of minority Muslim Rohingyas, according to independent sources.
At least 20,000 Rohingya refugees entered Bangladesh ever since the
beginning of the violence in Myanmar, they estimated.
The businessmen saw no hope about resuming their businesses soon as Rohingya refugees continue their effort to enter Bangladesh.
Many of the refugees who entered Bangladesh on Wednesday said Myanmar military
continued its drive and Maungdaw was still under lockdown.
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