Garment workers return to Dhaka amid lockdown to save jobs
Thousands of readymade garment factory workers started heading back to Dhaka from southern and western districts from early Saturday morning to save their jobs, ignoring the potential risks to their lives amid the spread of coronavirus infection.
Onrush of a large number of people including garment workers was observed at Mawa Ferryghat in Munshiganj district and Doulatdia Ferryghat in Rajbari district.
Nobody was caring for maintaining social distance to escape from coronavirus infection.
The government declared general holidays at public and private offices and educational institutions from March 26 to April 4. Later, the holidays were extended to April 11. The government took the step to ensure social distancing and keep people stay at homes for minimum two weeks. The government has also deployed army throughout the country so that none can go outside of their homes and gather on the roads. The army personnel have been assisting the civil and police administration to enforce the restrictions on people.
Besides, the government has imposed a ban on the movement of mass transports and urged people to stay indoors to prevent the spread of the virus. But its efforts will face a tough challenge as thousands start returning to the capital to attend work.
Visiting Doulatdia Ferryghat on Saturday morning, it was observed that hundreds of people got off at the ferryghat coming from different southern and western districts by goods carrying empty trucks, battery-operated autorickshaws, and other motor vehicles. As the plying of long-distance buses remained suspended, many people arrived at the ferryghat through great hardship. Most of them were the workers of ready-made garment factories in Dhaka. They also expressed strong resentment over the decision of owners to open their factories amid nationwide unoffcial lockdown.
The same situation was also observed at Mawa Ferryghat. Hundreds of people were coming back to Dhaka boarding on each ferry. They were not following the social distancing.
At Mawa Ferryghat, hundreds of people were seen crossing the Padma River by ferry and speed boats defying the risk of coronavirus spread.
Asked about how they came to the ferry terminal, most of them said they came by microbus, motorcycle, human haulers and covered vans as public transports remained suspended.
Bangladesh Army set up a check post at Louhajang on Dhaka-Mawa Highway and sending back all kinds of vehicles.
Expressing resentment, a garment worker said he had returned knowing that the his garment would open on Sunday. "But, coming on the other side of the river by ferry, I learnt that the holidays of garment factories would be extended. Now, what shall I do? Will I go to Dhaka or return to my village home? I don't understand what shall I do?"
Abdul Jalil, an official working at a garment factory at Badda in Dhaka, said, "The government has thrown us into a deep trouble. Garment workers have been asked to work despite lockdown has been imposed across the country. Garment factories will open from Sunday. Being compelled, I have reached here by a van-rickshaw and a autorickshaw starting from my village home very early in the morning. It took long five hours to reach here though it was just a two hours' journey. It is called justice?"
Two sisters--Morsheda Aktar and Rita Aktar--came from Bagerhat and they were heading toward their factory in Gazipur. Both the sisters arrived at Doulatdia Ferryghat boarding a microbus along with others starting from their village home in Bagerhat district. They had to pay the microbus driver Tk 800 each. Morsheda said, "There is no bus plying on the roads. On the other hand, there are coronavirus risks. Is it possible to reach Gazipur in such a way?"
People who returned were mostly garment workers and they said they had to face with difficult choice of either staying at home and losing jobs or returning to work braving coronavirus.
In Gazipur, defying government’s instruction of staying home and avoiding mass gatherings, a huge number of people entered Gazipur and the capital from northern districts.
Bangladesh on Saturday reported nine new coronavirus cases and two deaths. So far, the country has confirmed 70 cases and 8 deaths.
The global death toll from coronavirus jumped to 61,203 on Saturday.
COVID-19 has so far infected 1,117,918 people around the world, according to Worldometer.