People shop at Hatirpul kitchen market flouting social distancing rules amid coronavirus outbreak in Dhaka on 8 April 2020.
People shop at Hatirpul kitchen market flouting social distancing rules amid coronavirus outbreak in Dhaka on 8 April 2020.Abdus Salam

Although the capital’s kitchen markets have been gradually relocated to open spaces to prevent coronavirus transmission, maintaining social distance is still a far cry in those markets. There is no arrangement to measure temperature at the entrance of the markets while buyers seem to be unwilling to follow the hygiene rules.

Officials of Dhaka’s two city corporations said although they marked spots in front of the shops, people are not bothering about these.

Public awareness is important to maintain social distance, they emphasised.

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The health directorate has published a book on technical guidance on the prevention and control of coronavirus and the gradual opening up of economic activities on 7 May. The book, prepared by a committee of public health experts, contains technical instructions for various institutions, establishments and professions.

It has separate guidelines for the markets. It said, there should be arrangements to measure temperature at the entrance of all the markets. Buyers and sellers are required to wear masks. Slaughterhouses and meat processing shops need to be protected and the markets need to be disinfected after closing. Safe distance must be maintained while shopping.

Russell Sabrin, chief property officer of Dhaka South City Corporation, told Prothom Alo that maximum efforts were being made to maintain social distance. But as it turns out, many are not following the rules while shopping.

A Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mobile court on Tuesday fined a man Tk 10,000 for not wearing a mask and not maintaining social distance in the market. DSCC executive magistrate Raihanul Harun told Prothom Alo that the man, a teacher in Khilgaon, was fined under the Infectious Diseases Act.

The correspondent saw quite a large crowd in the North Pirerbagh kitchen markets at 11:00am on Wednesday. Fish, vegetable and fruit shops have been set up on a 60 ft section of the road. Even if the shops are spaced apart, the buyers are not keeping distance at all.

Touhidul Islam, a company employee who came to shop in the market, said not everyone is equally aware. Some are trying to maintain distance on their own while many others not conscious at all.

Some of them get angry if asked to maintain distance, he added.

The kitchen market in Mirpur-1 was to be shifted to Eidgah ground on the zoo road. However, in the face of objections from traders, a vegetable and fruit market has been set up on one side of the main road outside the main market. There are instructions for shopkeepers and shoppers with separate signs at the initiative of the police. Although, the sellers are sitting accordingly, the buyers are not following the rules.

Former general secretary of Shah Ali City Corporation Market, Atiqur Rahman Chowdhury told Prothom Alo that thousands of people are coming to Mirpur market every day.

“Buyers are overcrowded due to Ramadan. Unfortunately, people are not yet aware of the contagion,” he added.

A Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mobile court on Tuesday fined a man Tk 10,000 for not wearing a mask and not maintaining social distance in the market. DSCC executive magistrate Raihanul Harun told Prothom Alo that the man, a teacher in Khilgaon, was fined under the Infectious Diseases Act.

Of the 28 kitchen markets under the two city corporations, 24 have been relocated to open spaces. Mohammadpur Krishi Market’s Notun Bazaar, Khilgaon, Tejgaon’s Kalmilta and several shops in Maghbazar kitchen markets were closed and therefore these were not relocated.

As per the instructions of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, the kitchen markets will remain open till 5:00pm. However, trading in the markets continued till 6.30pm. Vendors say that many people come to shop before iftar because it is the month of Ramadan.

Mozammel Haque, chief property officer of Dhaka North City Corporation, told Prothom Alo that there is a risk of infection in the markets and people need to be more aware of this.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat

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