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Offices reopen after two months of shutdown

  • Published at 10:07 pm May 31st, 2020
Shapla Chattar
File photo: A general view of the Shapla Chattar at Motijheel, the commercial hub of capital Dhaka, on Sunday, May 31, 2020 Md Manik/Dhaka Tribune

Mixed reactions from employees

After 66 days of lockdown, Bangladesh resumed operation of all offices, business and transport on a limited scale on Sunday, even though the spread of Covid-19 in the country shows no sign of slowing down.

Most employees joined their workplaces with fear and anxiety, but some were thrilled to finally leave their homes for reasons other than to buy food for the first time in over two months.

According to a government gazette, the limited reopening will continue till June 15, before evaluating the situation again. 

Office goers stuck on the roads 

The resumption of business also brought back the dreaded Dhaka traffic, which had been missing since the stay-at-home orders were issued by the government. 

Moumi Khondoker, a banker who used to go to office twice a week during the shutdown, said: “After a long time, I faced a traffic jam on Sunday morning. Although public buses were not on the roads, many private cars, rickshaws, bikes and some small motorcars were stuck just like before the lockdown.”

Mohammad Israfil, traffic constable at the Mogbazar intersection, also told this correspondent that the number of vehicles on the street had increased considerably, especially in the morning.

There was little let-up in the traffic throughout the entire day. 

Mixed reactions from employees    

Officials and employees of all ministries started work at the secretariat from Sunday.

Some of them said they feared that they may contract Covid-19, but everyone was careful about wearing masks and gloves. 

Although officials and employees of ministry offices were allowed to enter the secretariat, visitors and journalists were not.

On condition of anonymity, an officer of the Election Commission said: “I am a little thrilled to join the office after 66 days. As you know, people are bored of staying home for such a long time. Although I fear contracting the coronavirus, I am sometimes also happy to have the opportunity to get out of the house.” 

Some private sector employees said they returned to office fearing they may lose their jobs if they did not.  

Sharmin Nahar, in the private sector, said: “We have heard that the economy will suffer due to coronavirus, so a lot of private sector employees can lose their jobs! I am going to the office to save my job.”

Raihan Chowdhury, who works at a corporate office in Gulshan, said: “I am driving myself to the office in my personal car, because I am afraid my driver may be a Covid-19 carrier. I am very anxious about the virus, but I have no choice since my office asked me to join on Sunday.”

He also said he would prefer it if the  government extended the general holiday further, so that everyone could join their workplaces down the road without fear.

Office goers suffer due to lack of transport

On the first day of office, post lockdown, many people suffered going to their workplaces as no public buses were available on the roads of Dhaka.

Some went to office by CNG auto-rickshaw or rickshaw paying double the regular fare. Some even had to walk to office.

Transport for government employees,  CNGs and rickshaws, did not seem to be maintaining Covid-19 health protocols.