Fourth day of lockdown Apparel workers suffer for transport crisis

18 April 2021

Noman Mosharef :
Apparel factories located in Savar, Gazipur and other industrial areas are yet to comply with the government's directive to arrange own transports for carrying their workers during the ongoing countrywide lockdown enforced to tackle the surge in coronavirus cases.
Though the factories are following health guidelines as per government rules in the 'strict lockdown,' the order to carry garments workers with own transport arrangement is being neglected, claimed labour leaders.
Owners said that most of the workers are living within the vicinity factories. So, they did not arrange transport for workers as they can come to work on foot.
The workers enter the factories after measuring their body temperature.
"About 360 workers had been working in 8 lines in my factory before pandemic while now they are working in 6 lines, maintaining physical distancing," an apparel factory owner of Gazipur told The New Nation.
According to Industrial police, about 3000 garments factories have been operating in Gazipur where more than 2.2 million workers have been employed.
However, the workers claimed that although the health guidelines were following properly at their workplaces, but there are high risks of virus transmission for the lack of transportations. 
Moreover, the factory authorities admit the absence of transpirations system and said, they are discussing about the safety and security of long distance workers.
Sohel Rana, a Director of Sadma Group said, "At this moment we have no arrangement for own transportations system for workers.
He said: "We do not arrange transport for the workers as most of them are living in short distances from our factory. But we are also thinking for our long distance workers."
When asked, BGMEA president Faruque Hassan said, "About 90 per cent of our workers are living near the factories. Rests 10 per cent are living slightly long distances. They use to come factories by rickshaw, van or by-cycles."
He, however, claimed that owners are 'strictly' following a hygienic system to operate their factories during the lockdown. They have already developed the system to protect their workers taking lesson from first the wave of deadly coronavirus.
BGMEA President informed this correspondent that a total of 709 garment workers contracted with Covid-19 until March 31 and the number was very small considering the size of the industry workers.
Md Towhidur Rahman, President of the Bangladesh Apparels Workers' Federation, said although most of the garment factories were following the health guidelines, many workers faced untold sufferings to reach their workplaces due to the lack of transports.
The workers who have been living long-distances from the workplaces were supposed to be transported by the factories. But in many cases, they were not given the facility, he said.
"Many workers in Savar, Ashulia, Gazipur and other industrial belts went to their workplaces yesterday on foot or used human haulers and rickshaws though it was the fourth day of the ongoing lockdown," he claimed.

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