LAHORE - The Punjab government cheaper Ramazan Bazaars have failed in providing items of daily commodities to people on subsidised rates as long queues were seen in several makeshift bazaars to buy the most sought-after items including potato, onion and sugar.

According to visitors, the government efforts to maintain a reasonable gap between Ramazan Bazaars and retail market rates seems to have met little success, as several stalls offering main commodities were empty in the market.

The people in large numbers throng these bazaars in the city despite marginal difference of rates, as a limited quantity of onion and potato was available at Rs27 and Rs55 per kg respectively while these items are available in open market with a difference of just Rs5. The same case was with the sugar which was also very short in quantity as long lines of women as well as men were seen to purchase this sweetener with a difference of about Rs8-10 per kg from open market.

An old woman standing in a queue at Islampura Ramazan Bazaar, said the recent surge in the prices of essential food items had made her life miserable and it was difficult for her family to make ends meet. She said she was standing in the queue to save some rupees. The government is not paying any heed to our issues, she complained.

Sumaira, standing in a queue, said she was there for the last 30 minutes to purchase sugar and it was very difficult for women and the elderly people to stand in queues. Khurram Butt said that the ever-rising inflation had already broken the back of the consumers. What we got after the change of the government as the condition of the people is the same and we have to stand in long queues to purchase sugar and other items just to save some money, he stated.

He complained that several items whose rates were subsidised were not available in makeshift markets like fresh potatoes and tomatoes. Vendors also continued over-charging as a great number of customers thronged these markets, set up across the city to provide cheap food items to the people. The prices of the onion, potato, garlic India, garlic desi, cauliflower, peas, lemon green, chilli and radish were stable while the rates of spinach, tomato, bringle, cabbage and methi were up with a major difference from the last week rates. Several veggies rates were increased including Thailand ginger, desi spinach, peas, carrot, lady finger cucumber etc.

The shoppers said they could not find mutton and poultry at most of the Sunday Bazaars and they had to buy it from other markets at higher rates. They said the city district government had failed to implement the prices of all major food items. The vendors said the sales of vegetables had increased due to cheaper prices of several commodities.

The price of bitter gourd saw a hike of Rs 4 per kg but was not available. The rate of potato was constant at Rs50 but it was being sold in the range of Rs55 to Rs 58 per kg with short availability. Garlic rate was increased by up to Rs20 which was available for Rs165 against Rs145 of the last week. Similarly ginger was selling for Rs255 per kg while its last week rate was Rs180. In the same way green chili rate was up by Rs10 and was being sold for Rs80 per kg this week. Shoppers said that some of the items were available at lower rates but majority of goods prices were the same as of the open market retail shops. They said that the middlemen know that people have no choice but to shop as these are basic kitchen items.

Spinach and brinjal were sold for Rs15 and Rs 28 per kg, cucumber for Rs20 per kg and lemon for Rs150 per kg, but all of them were absolutely missing from the market. Only substandard tomatoes, pumpkins, peas, apples, bananas and other vegetables were available in the makeshift markets while no other fruit or vegetable were found at most of the Ramazan bazaars.