Monday, April 26, 2021

Despite abundance, prices of masks and sanitisers remain high in Peshawar

As soon as masks, gloves, and sanitisers reach local markets and shops, their prices are doubled or tripled

A vendor selling facemasks waits for customers along the streets of Karachi on June 8, 2020. Photo: AFP/File.

PESHAWAR: As the province battles with the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the provincial government continues to urge the masses to adhere to the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs), masks, hand sanitisers, and gloves are still being sold at expensive rates in Peshawar.

There is no shortage of masks, hand sanitisers, or gloves in Peshwar's Namak Mandi, the largest wholesale market in the city. But as soon as these items reach local markets and shops, their prices are doubled or tripled, making it difficult for poor people to afford these essentials. 

Speaking to Geo News, Muhammad Nadeem, a wholesale dealer from Namak Mandi, said the wholesale market has an abundance of masks, gloves, and sanitisers, therefore, hiking their prices does not make sense. 

"During the first wave of coronavirus, there was a shortage of these items in the market because of which they were sold in the black market. Hence, they were sold for exorbitant prices," Nadeem said. 

"This is not the case now, as we not only have imported items in abundance but local manufacturers have also stepped into the market to meet the growing demand," he added. 

According to Nadeem, a box of 50 surgical masks made in Pakistan is sold at the wholesale rate of Rs120, while a box of Chinese-made masks is being sold for Rs160.

"This means that one locally-manufactured mask costs Rs2.5, while the Chinese one is for Rs3.20. Similarly, a carton of 50 pairs of protective gloves is being sold at a wholesale rate of Rs1,100, which means each pair of gloves is for Rs22," he said. 

Umar Khan, who owns a grocery shop in Peshawar's Saddar Market, told Geo News that the sale of masks and gloves has increased over the last few days.

"I had started stocking masks and gloves in my shop after the first wave of the pandemic broke out in Pakistan," Khan said. 

He added that he sells a single piece of surgical mask for Rs10 while masks made up of clothes and bearing different designs are sold within the range of Rs20 to Rs100, which gives him a decent income. He sells a pair of gloves for Rs50.

On the other hand, Special Assistant to the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Information, Kamran Bangash, told Geo News that during the first wave of the coronavirus, masks, hand sanitisers, and gloves were sold in the black market at exorbitant rates, but the practice was later remedied by the government.

 "The prices of these items are now under control," he said.