Prices of fire safety equipment, mainly fire extinguishers, have marked a sharp rise in the local market against the backdrop of high demand and supply shortage.
Prices of three types of fire extinguishers available on the market almost doubled in less than a month with the owners of high-rise buildings, private clinics and shopping malls rushing to fire safety shops at Nawabpur and other parts of Dhaka to buy extinguishers, wholesalers said.
Consumers and many retailers, however, alleged that 40-45 wholesalers based at Nawabpur created an artificial crisis of fire extinguishers imported mainly from China causing the price hike.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh president Ghulam Rahman said that consumers were losers being forced to pay higher price for the item.
He said that the businesspeople were taking advantage of the situation.
The consumer rights activist said that he saw no activity of the National Consumers’ Right Protection Council o r the Competition Commission to check the ‘unethical practices’ of the businesspeople.
One of the fire extinguishers containing dry powder is now selling for Tk 1,500. It sold for Tk 750 just one month ago, KS International at Nawabpur Road branch manager Mohammad Biplu told New Age on Saturday.
The price of the fire extinguisher containing carbon dioxide gas rose to Tk 1,600 from its previous price of less than Tk 900, he said.
He said that inspection by government agencies, including Rajdhani Unnyan Katripakkha, in the wake of fire incident in the FR Tower at Banani in Dhaka mainly forced the owners of high-rises to buy fire extinguishers.
Another fire safety equipment seller said that the demand almost doubled as his one-month stock was exhausted in 15 days which forced him, like many other retailers, to collect the item from the importers at a high price.
Shama International sales manager Liton Patwari said that there was acute shortage of fire
extinguisher containing dry powder.
Any building over six storeys is treated as a high-rise as per the Bangladesh National Building Code and the building owners have to follow fire safety rules and install fire-fighting equipments.
Not only the extinguishers but also the price of buckets also shot up since there was a provision of keeping buckets of sands and water in high-rise buildings, said Liton Patwari.
Owner of Fire Equipment Depot at Motiheel Mohammad Ikramul Mridha said that the supply of extinguishers from wholesalers dropped significantly since late March.
The wholesalers were demanding high price on the pretext of shortage of the item, he alleged.
Fire Fighting Association of Bangladesh outgoing president Niaz Ali Chisty denied the allegation saying that high demand mainly caused the price hike.
There is no artificial crisis, he claimed, adding that nobody could foresee such a high demand for extinguishers.
He calculated that before the present high demand the monthly sale of fire extinguishers was about 10,000 pieces and was mostly purchased by apparel factory owners and government office.
He said that volatility in price of extinguishers might continue for one or two more months until the fresh consignment from China reached Dhaka.
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