The prices of leafy greens, vegetables and eggs in the capital have gone up by a large extent compared to the increase in transport costs.
Following the recent fuel price hike, truck fares on various routes have increased by Tk500-1,200 on average, according to transport service providers.
With that amount of increase in transport costs, the prices of leafy greens in the capital should have gone up by a maximum of Tk4 per kg, other vegetables by Tk3 per kg and a dozen eggs by Tk2.52.
But in reality, prices of almost all vegetables in Dhaka's kitchen markets were found to have increased by about Tk15-20 a kg.
Egg prices had jumped by about Tk35 per dozen (Tk3 per piece) to Tk 150-Tk160 in the middle of this month. The price, however, fell to Tk145 a dozen in the city's wholesale markets a day after the commerce minister's announcement that eggs would be imported if prices did not come down.
Md Sattar Miji, joint general secretary of the Bangladesh Truck-Covered Van Owners' Association, said, "Although the price of fuel has increased, the rent of trucks has not increased accordingly. Fares have not risen by more than Tk1,200 on most routes and on some routes, trucks are running on previous fares."
"At present, due to the high price of the dollar, the country's import and export are largely suspended. As a result, many goods-carrying vehicles are sitting idle. There is no fixed fare for trucks and fares rise and fall on the basis of demand," he added.
According to trucking sector insiders, most of the vegetables and eggs come to Dhaka from Jhenaidah, Pabna, Tangail, Kurigram's Rowmari, Kushtia, Tangail and Gazipur districts.
The previous truck fare from Jhenaidah to Dhaka was Tk17,000, which now stands at Tk18,000. A trip from Pabna to Dhaka now costs Tk18,000, up by Tk1,000. A trip from Tangail to Dhaka was Tk6,000, which now stands at Tk6,500-7,200.
Similar amounts of fare have been hiked on the Kurigram-Dhaka and Kushtia-Dhaka routes.
According to insiders, a truck can carry some 8-12 tonnes of goods depending on its capacity and vegetable variety. Some vegetables and herbs cannot be carried more than 7-8 tonnes as they weigh less but are large in volume.
Most eggs in Dhaka come from different farms in Gazipur. The rent of a 3-tonne truck is currently Tk6,500 to Tk8,000 and it can carry at least 50,000 to 70,000 eggs.
If prices increase in terms of transportation costs, the price of an egg should go up by a maximum of Tk0.25.
"The prices of vegetables and eggs have been hiked by a corrupt syndicate, the truck fare has nothing to do with it," said another truck owner Md Nurul Nabi.
Bus companies charging more than the govt-fixed rates
The government has fixed the fares for long-haul buses after the fuel price hike but transport companies are also charging passengers more than the fixed rates.
On 6 August, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) increased fares for long-haul buses by 22% and city buses by 16%.
Before the fuel price hike, the government-fixed fare for the 109.7km road from Gabtali to Faridpur was Tk316. Later the new fare was fixed at Tk372, but the transport companies are charging passengers Tk375-400.
A bus can travel a 2-2.5km distance on a litre of diesel. Assuming an average travel distance of 2.25 km per litre and the hike in diesel price by Tk34 per litre, the Dhaka-Faridpur trip fare should be increased by Tk38 but it has been increased by Tk56-84.
The previous ticket fare for the 232km road from Dhaka to Jessore was Tk597, which now has increased by Tk118 to Tk715. The fare should have been increased by Tk88.
Similarly, the fare for the 272km road from Dhaka to Khulna was Tk691. Currently, the fare has increased by Tk139 to Tk 830 for each passenger. The additional fare should have been Tk103.
Besides, the fare for the 250km distance from Dhaka to Benapole was Tk641, which now has been increased to Tk768. The fare was increased by Tk127 when it should have been increased by Tk95.