Wholesale greengrocers of Kirkuk bazaar end strike

Kirkuk, March 9,2022: Store keepers of Khan Tamir grocery wholesale opened stored following Tuesday strike. Karwan Salihi

By Karwan Salihi in Kirkuk

The owners of grocery stores in one Kirkuk greengrocery wholesale markets decided to open stores on Wednesday following Tuesday strike in protest of imposition of "illegal" taxes," following meeting and agreement with Kirkuk chief commander.

Representatives of shop owners in Khan al-Tamir wholesale grocery bazaar of Kirkuk met late Tuesday with commander of Kirkuk Joint Operations’ Command in Kirkuk who promised to halt imposing taxes on sales till Saturday and to held further meetings to sort out the issue.

Khan al-Tamir (House of Dates) market is one of the largest markets in the city of Kirkuk for fruits and vegetables wholesale where 400 stores are located and thousands of people work and trade grocery.

On Monday, the store owners decided to go on strike on Tuesday and shut their stores denying paying extra fees for an investor in return of security and cleaning services.

Early September, the vendors protested collecting fees between 15-80 USD per truck size by an investor while local authorities affirmed the investor has a valid contract with local administration of Kirkuk.

One of the shop owners, Omid Jihad, said late Tuesday, "A number of the owners of Khan al-Tamr shops visited the operations commander in Kirkuk province, and we informed him about our problems related to the imposition of large sums of money by the investor, and tomorrow we will reopen our shops."

Jihad said they agreed not to pay any taxes till March 12th. “If then we do not reach an agreement with the investor and Kirkuk municipality, the investor is bind to allow us have stores in South of Kirkuk wholesale grocery.


Video: Store owners of Khan Tamir met commander of Kirkuk Joint operations command

On Tuesday, the prices of vegetables and some fruits has doubled in Kirkuk following the strike by greengrocers in a wholesale bazaar of Kirkuk on Tuesday in protest of extra taxes imposed by an investor.

One kilogram of tomato was traded for 550 IQD on Sunday while today it was sold for 1,000 IQD, the same for cucumber, eggplant and zucchini.

Khan al-Tamir (House of Dates), is one of the largest grocery wholesale bazaars in the city of Kirkuk, for selling fruits and vegetables.

The 400 store keeprs called on the local administration and the Iraqi government to annul the contract of the investor who said he is organizing the bazaar per a legal and valid contract since last year.

The investor has signed a contract with Municipality of Kirkuk for 500 million Iraqi Dinars IQD ($340,000) to organize the structure and trading activities in Khan Tamir greengrocery wholesale bazaar downtown of Kirkuk.

KirkukNow could not get a copy of the contract concluded between the investor and municipality of Kirkuk.

Another shop owner, Hilal Mahmoud, told Kirkuk Now, "Because of the closure of our stores today, the prices of vegetables and fruits in Kirkuk have increased."

Live coverage of KirkukNow for stirke by Khan Tamir store keepers on Tuesday

At eleven o'clock on Tuesday evening, the Operations Command issued a press statement following meeting with grocery wholesalers and municipality of Kirkuk.

"Tomorrow, all the shops will be opened and their work will be carried out, and the security forces will secure the market and ensure the smooth work of the shop owners and serve the citizen, and the security forces will work to secure the market and prevent any armed demonstrations or attacks against the shop owners," the statement said.

"A meeting will be held at the headquarters of the advanced headquarters with the owners of the shops in Khan Al-Tamir and the relevant authorities, next Saturday, to organize the work of the market according to legal contexts and to ensure the rights of all.”

Following Russia invasion of Ukraine, the prices of some items of foodstuff imported from both countries have soared despite the measures taken by the government to control the market and hold traders who manipulate prices to account.

According to the follow-ups of KirkukNow correspondent in Kirkuk markets, the prices of foodstuffs, especially imported cooking oil, flour and some types of rice, have been on the rise for nearly a week.

The oil rich-city of Kirkuk, located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, is an ethnically mixed province for 1.7 million Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Arabs, and Turkmen. It has long been at the center of disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil. 

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