As Dhaka witnessed one of the highest days of political drama of the pre-election fervor on Sunday, businesses remained largely closed as ground transport was shut down. The opposition led parties continue to call for businesses and the city itself to remain closed on Monday to send a strong message of protest to the ruling Awami League.
Officials of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association told WWD that they were struggling to ensure that orders could be met although December has been a hard month and that garment factory owners were now paying major penalties because of the political situation. “Cancellation of orders worth $3.77 million have happened in this month itself,” a BGMEA official said. This was in the first three and a half weeks of this month.
Citing a quick survey of a small number of factories, BGMEA statistics showed an additional hardship to garment factory owners in which they paid penalties on delayed shipments to the tune of $7.83 million.
The concern that has surfaced again this weekend is the cost of the political blockades and shut downs of the city that have cost the factories more than $2 million in the month of December on top of the penalties factory owners have paid.
In one of the most widely observed shut-downs so far, Dhaka remained a bastion of police efforts. The army guard has been called in to help maintain law and order 15 days before the election day of January 5, for the tenth parliamentary election.
As the opposition party Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led 18 party coalition has refused to participate in the election, they have called for extensive protests and the country was on high alert as BNP leader Khaleeda Zia was blockaded into her home even as protestors gathered in Dhaka in a march for the last two days.
BNP has been calling for a boycott of the elections, and with their refusal to participate the ruling Awami League party would win 154 of the parliament’s 300 seats uncontested.
Meanwhile, exports from the garment industry have continued to be a focus as it is accounts for 80 percent of the exports from Bangladesh at $22 billion and employs more than 3.8 million workers.