Police reportedly have beaten several delivery man in Dhaka, even though they were permitted to make home deliveries
The law enforcement agencies have allegedly been obstructing home deliveries of e-commerce businesses in Dhaka city, even though such activities on the part of these internet-based companies fall under the category of emergency services.
This comes at a time when the government since March 26 has enforced a soft shutdown to enforce social distancing and prevent a further spread of the novel coronavirus by restricting all types of movement across the country.
The Public Administration Minister had issued a gazette on Wednesday, announcing the government’s decision to extend the public holiday, which was supposed to end on April 4, until April 11.
The gazette noted that the shutdown order would not apply to emergency services, including electricity, water, gas, fire services, cleaning activities, telephone and internet. The ministry on Thursday also included newspapers and fuel in this category.
With thousands of Dhakaites forced to stay at home amid the unofficial lockdown, many are resorting to online shopping for essential items.
However, law enforcement personnel since Thursday morning have been obstructing delivery men and vans of a number of e-commerce businesses from making home deliveries in the capital’s Gulshan and Mirpur areas. They would only let them go after talking to the superiors of the delivery men.
People concerned said the law enforcement officials did not take into account the Dhaka divisional commissioner’s permission letter the delivery men were carrying. They wanted to see the letter directly issued by the commissioner.
Speaking on the issue, Md Abdul Wahed Tomal, general secretary of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), said: “The law enforcement agencies are yet to receive the copy of the Dhaka divisional commissioner’s letter that permits e-commerce businesses to continue their delivery services. That’s why some complications arose today [Thursday].
“Hopefully, the letter from the commissioner’s office will be sent to them today, and there won’t be any problem from tomorrow [Friday].”
Tomal, however, added that law enforcement personnel had obstructed the delivery men even though the latter were maintaining all safety measures, including wearing masks and gloves and using sanitizers, while making deliveries at customers’ homes. “I hope these obstructions will go away soon.”
In one incident, a delivery man of MeenaClick, online platform of supershop Meena Bazar, was beaten by law enforcement personnel in Kafrul area on Thursday. They also vandalized his motorcycle.
The officials did not listen to victim Shaon Hossain’s explanations regarding why he was out and about amid the shutdown. They also did not pay heed to his identity as a delivery man and the copy of the divisional commissioner’s permission letter he was carrying.
But police denied the allegations, claiming that no delivery man of any e-commerce business had been obstructed or harassed.
‘Police didn’t care’
Ahmed Shoyeb Iqbal, head of MeenaClick, said that MeenaClick delivered essential items from Meena Bazar to customers’ homes as people were not allowed to go outside amid the ongoing shutdown.
“Amidst this, police beat our delivery rider Shaon Hossain and damaged his bike when he went to make a delivery at West Kafrul. The bike had a sticker of e-CAB logo and he had a copy of the commissioner’s letter on him.
“The a2i database also has the list of all MeenaClick delivery riders. If police wanted, they could have just checked that and found who Shaon was and why he was on the road. Shaon had offered to show them all these, but police did not pay any heed.”
Shoyeb continued: “E-commerce falls under the emergency services category. Despite that, our people are being persecuted when they are working to deliver essentials to the homes of general people who cannot go outside.”
It has also been reported that delivery men of ride-sharing app Pathao's delivery service Tong and courier service eCourier Ltd faced similar obstruction in Mirpur and Gulshan areas on Thursday.
Mizan, a delivery man of eCourier, said he was lucky enough to not face any such difficulties since the morning. “But two other eCourier delivery men were beaten up by police.”
Biplob Ghosh Rahul, chief executive officer of eCourier, said: “Law enforcement officials stopped several of our delivery men and vans today [Thursday], even though they had copies of the divisional commissioner’s permission letter and the BRTA clearance for our vehicles.
“These incidents happened in Mirpur and Gulshan. We resolved those issues after contacting the higher-ups at different offices. Then we had to stop our services in Mirpur area.”
Regarding the allegations, Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Mirpur Division Deputy Commissioner Mostak Ahmed told Bangla Tribune that police had only stopped and questioned those whose behaviour appeared suspicious.
“We let go those who gave satisfactory reasons for being outside and sent back home those who could not. But no delivery man of any e-commerce business or internet-based courier service was obstructed or harassed,” he claimed.