KATHMANDU, Aug 20: People of the Kathmandu Valley on Wednesday rushed to stock the essentials after the government announced a week-long lockdown starting Wednesday midnight.
The shopping outlets, mainly the groceries, vegetable shops and petrol pumps, were seen heavily crowded with the shoppers purchasing huge amounts of food items, fearing their possible short supply in view of the government enforcing measures to check soaring numbers of the coronavirus cases. Many feared that the prohibitory order enforced by the government could last longer a week as Kathmandu Valley has seen a sudden spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent days.
“The sale of daily essentials soared more than double as compared to the normal day transaction as people started thronging to the shops to keep stock of the food items and other essentials,” said an attendant of Singh Store in Kuleshwor.
People in a number of stores were seen standing in a long queue, maintaining safety guidelines, to purchase the goods that they thought could be in short-supply. However, in many other cases, shoppers were seen simply ignoring safety guidelines and physical distancing to contain the spread of the COVID-19.
Rama Mainali, a local resident found queuing up at Laxmi Kirana Pasal in Kalimati, told Republica that she was compelled to stock food items in excess quantity in view of the upcoming festivals including ‘Sorah Shradda-- a 16-day long rituals observed to pay homage to forefathers. “It is uncertain now how long this government’s restriction will be in place,” she added.
Sonam Lama, who came for shopping at Salesberry Department Store in Baneshwor, said she was not clear whether it will be a flexible lockdown or a curfew that the government is enforcing from Wednesday. “The unclear public notice issued by the government authority has pushed many households including me to stock excess edibles than necessary,” said Lama.
Apart from the food stores, almost all the gasoline stations saw busy times selling tanks full of the petroleum in the vehicles on Wednesday.
As people in Kathmandu Valley also rushed to keep stock for several days, prices of vegetable items skyrocketed on Wednesday as compared to the previous day. Vegetable sellers attribute this rise also to the sudden drop in the supply of vegetable items from outside Kathmandu Valley.
Shyam Shrestha, a shopkeeper in Kalimati Vegetable Market, said the vegetable supply has been largely disrupted by the lockdown and curfew imposed in a number of districts adjoining the Kathmandu Valley and Tarai region. Nuwakot, Makwanpur, Kavrepalanchok and Dhading are among the main districts that supply fresh vegetables to consumers in Kathmandu Valley.
Vegetable sellers said the prices of a number of vegetable items almost doubled just in a single day on Wednesday, following the government’s decision to enforce lockdown measures on Tuesday evening. Price of tomato that fell to Rs 70 per kg escalated to Rs 100 per kg, while the price of okra increased to Rs 150, up from Rs 80 per kg. Similarly, dry onion was sold to Rs 50, up from Rs 40 a kg, and potato to Rs 75 against Rs 60 per kg on Tuesday.