• Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Govt worried about implementing health guidelines at cattle markets

  • Published at 07:11 am June 24th, 2020
Eid-ul-Azha - cattle- market-mehedi-hasan-
File photo: Local cows being herded into the cattle market during last year's Eid-ul-Azha Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

• A draft of health guidelines for cattle markets is being prepared

• Maintaining health guidelines will be challenging

• An inter-ministerial meeting called to discuss the challenges

The government is concerned about implementing health guidelines at  temporary cattle markets across the country that will start a week before Eid-ul-Azha. It is the largest religious festival for Muslims that will be celebrated on August 1, depending on the moon sighting.

The government usually allows 1250-1300 temporary cattle markets across the country. However, the number goes up to over 2000 cattle markets including  illegal ones where thousands of people – buyers and sellers – gather.

Two city corporations in Dhaka have already floated tenders separately last week to set up 24 temporary cattle markets. 

Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) will sanction 14 and 10 temporary cattle markets respectively.

Experts are saying that Bangladesh has hardly seen proper implementation of health guidelines since the announcement of a ‘public holiday’ across the country. If the government allows cattle markets now, it could create a disastrous situation for the country as Covid-19 is highly contagious.

Similarly, government authorities have also stressed concern about handling the waste management caused by the slaughtering of animals amid the pandemic.

“Is it [Cattle Market] really needed amid the pandemic? We should think twice about setting up temporary cattle markets in Dhaka as the infection rate is increasing day by day.” said Atiqul Islam, mayor of DNCC. 

“We should be very careful about the cattle market this year. We will discuss the challenges of cattle markets to find a way out in a meeting on June 25,” said Md Tajul Islam, minister at the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (LGRD).

What are the challenges?

Concerned officials and experts have already identified some major challenges for cattle markets which are likely to be discussed at the upcoming meeting.

Officials of different departments said maintaining social distancing is the biggest challenge as the markets are usually overcrowded due to inadequate space, especially in Dhaka. 

Although wearing a mask is mandatory, many people are seen carrying masks and only wearing them when asked by the authorities. So ensuring wearing a mask at cattle markets is another big challenge.

Arranging enough hand washing facilities will also be difficult as the temporary cattle markets are set up in a haphazard manner. 

Setting up disinfection tunnels will also be difficult at these makeshift cattle markets. It will also be tough to check the temperature of people who will gather from all parts of the country.

Another issue is thousands of buyers who will stay 24 hours at a temporary cattle market.

“As thousands of sellers and buyers gather at cattle markets, it could turn into a major centre for coronavirus infection,” said Prof Dr Nazrul Islam, an eminent virologist.

“Drafting a guideline will be easy but execution will be difficult regarding social distancing issues,” he added.

Dr Nazrul Islam, former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Madecal University, said: “We should think of alternatives to a physical cattle market. If it can be done digitally that will be great.”

“The decision to set up cattle markets in Dhaka will not only work against  public health but will also be suicidal for the nation. It is not vital in a pandemic. Cattle markets should not be allowed this year,” said Dr Lilin Chawdhury, public health expert.

An inter-ministerial meeting called to discuss challenges

The Local Government Division has called a virtual inter-ministerial meeting on June 25 to discuss the challenges of organizing cattle markets and maintaining health guidelines. LGRD Minister Md Tajul Islam will preside over the meeting. 

All concerned officials of the Ministry of Public Administration, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges, and Ministry of Health will be attending the meeting.

“We are planning for how to maintain social distancing and other health issues at cattle markets. We will finalize the plan after the meeting,” said Tajul.

Guideline is underway for cattle market

DSCC and DNCC have already floated tenders to set up temporary cattle markets in Dhaka city. However, none of the city corporations included any conditions regarding health safety issues in the tender document.

Asked about the issue, DNCC mayor Atiqul Islam said: “We have requested DGHS to give us a guideline for cattle markets. Once we get the guideline, we will take action according to that.”

A DGHS official said they are planning to draft a guideline for cattle markets which will be completed soon.

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