The Government’s confirmation of the hazardous air quality as a result of the haze has prompted panicked parents to rush to buy masks for their children, causing the retail price of the item to rise as much as five-fold in some areas.
Kota Damansara resident Alpadzul Abu Hassan called up The Star to complain about the price hike after trying to buy some soft fabric masks for his family from local pharmacies.
“It was only RM1 a few days ago, but the government’s emergency announcement has caused many parents to rush to buy the masks,” said Alpadzul.
“The traders are charging RM3 to RM5 for each mask now. It is ridiculous for the traders to profit like this.”
Alpadzul, who is Kota Damansara 6 Residents Association secretary, said he received many complaints regarding the sudden hike in the price of masks from parents in his area and urged the authorities to clamp down on the traders.
The soft fabric masks used to cost between 80 sen and RM1 while the hard masks were priced between RM2 and RM5.50 each, depending on the quality of the material it was made of.
A check with a pharmacy in Damansara Jaya showed that they were still selling the soft fabric mask at RM1 each.
The pharmacist who declined to be named said the price of the masks, whether hard or soft, depended on the grade and filtration level they offer.
“The higher grade ones are more expensive and are priced between RM2 and RM3,” said the pharmacist.
A hardware shop in Segambut has reported an increase in the sale of masks.
The shop owner who declined to be identified said the soft fabric mask, which previously sold at 80 sen each were priced at RM1.
“We have no choice but to raise the price because the factories have increased the prices. They tell us that even they are running out of stock,” he said.
He added that hardly anyone ever bought the masks during normal times.