Similar to what has been happening in the past two days, workers of industrial and readymade garment (RMG) factories have been returning to their workplaces in the capital on Monday amid growing concerns over the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
They are getting on trucks, pick-up vans or rickshaws to reach their destinations, while some have been walking to their destinations, locals have said.
Workers are desperate to save their jobs. Some of them said they had to pay excessive fares for transportation due to the shutdown.
In Manikganj, people from the country’s south-western part have been gathering at ferry pontoons of Paturia and Aricha since Sunday.
Al Mamun, a garment worker returning from Kushtia, talked to Dhaka Tribune at Manikganj bus stand.
He said: “I have already spent Tk1400 to reach Manikganj. To reach my workplace in Ashulia, Savar, I have to spend at least Tk 600 more.”
RMG workers Sobhan Uddin and Afsar Hossain said if they could not reach their workplace on time they would lose their jobs.
Md Rasel, a traffic police in-charge in Manikganj said the law enforcers were not allowing any vehicles carrying too many people. “Workers used motorbikes, and rickshaw vans to reach Manikganj. But some do not maintain safety regulations during their journey when the police are not nearby.”
In Tangail, people were seen cramming into auto-rickshaws, pickup-trucks and human haulers on the Dhaka-Tangail-Bangabandhu bridge highway, Tangail bypass road, and in Mirzapur and Elenga areas.
Many were seen walking to their destinations.
Elenga highway police outpost in-charge Kamal Hossain said: “We are allowing the garment workers to pass through on humanitarian grounds, as they might lose their jobs if they do not make it to their workplaces. But some are not following proper social distancing measures and boarding vehicles in large numbers.”
In Feni, workers started their journey for Dhaka from Feni’s Mohipal area on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway.
Nazmun Nahar, a garment worker, said: “We haven’t received our outstanding dues so we have to go no matter what. But unavailability of proper transportation and high cost is a great struggle.”
Feni traffic police Inspector Mehdi Hasan said a check post was being operated at Mohammad Ali market area on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway; where police were not letting vehicles with passengers through. He added that there had been no instruction to allow workers to move through the area.
It will be recalled that on April 10, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BKMEA) decided to keep all garment factories closed until April 25.
On April 23, the government extended the general holidays until May 5 to tackle the worsening coronavirus situation.