BNP senior leader Moudud Ahmed on Friday laid emphasis on forging a national unity to create awareness among people to tackle the coronavirus.
“I think we should not only depend on what the government is doing to face coronavirus. We need to forge a nation unity to make people aware (of the disease),” he said.
“Let’s all political parties and professional bodies get united and take programmes to raise awareness among people to tackle the coronavirus. If we can do this, people will be more benefited than the government’s programmes, the BNP leader added.
He made the remarks while speaking at a discussion on coronavirus at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) arranged by Bangladesh Nagorik Odhikar Andolon.
Moudud, a BNP standing committee member, urged all political and other organisations to avoid holding public rallies and meeting now as part of a move to check the virus.
He said the government should also shut down all the educational institutions to avoid the risk of spreading the virus. “All the necessary precautionary measures need to be taken immediately to prevent the coronavirus.”
Moudud said the government announced the detection of three coronavirus cases in the country when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi postponed his Bangladesh tour.
He alleged that the country does not have the necessary equipment to provide medical care to the coronavirus infected patients. "I do not think the government is taking proper measures to tackle the coronavirus.
“We’ve to keep it in mind that the current government is an unelected one which has no accountability to people. That’s way when they say something or when they do something we always doubt it,” Moudud observed.
The BNP leader said the government could not ensure appropriate measures at the airports to test the passengers coming to Bangladesh from abroad.
Speaking at the programme, Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said the Prime Minister on Thursday said no one, except three one, in the country infected with the coronavirus. “How did she say that? I am asking the Prime Minister and the ministers how can you be so sure that there is no more patient in the country?”
He said people have a perception that the government is doing politics over the celebrations of the Mujib Year . “If the Mujib Year’s programmes are national ones, Khaleda Zia, all the freedom fighters and the jailed opposition leaders can be present there, but no such initiative has been taken.”
Manna said the government, which could not prevent dengue outbreak last year, will not be able check to coronavirus prevalence as well. “They (govt) are doing politics over the coronavirus instead of making efforts to protect people from it.”
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Thursday trashed Awami League’s accusation of doing politics over corona issue, saying their party is performing its political responsibility by identifying the government’s flaws in preventing the spread of the virus.
“'Coronavirus has become pandemic around the world and it has no relation with politics. But can’t we identify the shortcoming of the government? If we say anything about it, they (AL) tell us not to do politics with the issue,” he said.
The BNP leader further said, “We’re not doing politics over the coronavirus. As one of the largest responsible political parties in the country, we’re performing our duties to prevent it. We’ve started distributing leaflets across the country, including Dhaka, to raise public awareness.”
Fakhrul came up with the remarks before launching BNP’s leaflet distribution programme in front of its Nayapaltan central office to increase public awareness about the coronavirus.
He said they are distributing leaflets aiming to protect people from an epidemic like coronavirus and stand by people.
The BNP leader said their party has already postponed their countrywide demonstration programme while most of the scheduled programmes of their associate bodies have also been postponed to tackle the coronavirus.
He said they asked their all units across the country to raise awareness among people about the virus from their own positions and stand beside the affected people. "We would like to urge people to be aware of the coronavirus and take all the necessary measures to prevent it.”
He said almost every country in the world has declared emergency and taken necessary steps on priority basis to get rid of the virus. “But unfortunately, awareness has not been raised in our country. The government didn’t give any importance to the issue at the initial stage. Some actions have been taken after three people were infected with the virus.”
He said there is no screening system at ports, as inadequate thermal scanners have been put in place there. “The thermal scanners at airports are too inadequate that the Chinese ambassador has to make a comment about it.”
Besides, the BNP leader said, proper treatment facilities have not been ensured at the medical centers designated for the treatment of the virus-affected patients.
He said their party thinks the government took too much time in taking preparations to prevent coronavirus as it could not pay any attention to the matter as their main focus was on Mujib Year celebrations.
Fakhrul bemoaned that though the government used to talk about development, the condition of the country’s health sector is so week that people are not getting service there.
He said their party earlier urged the government to shut schools, colleges and universities as part of a precautionary step to check the spread of the coronavirus, but the government could not yet take any decision in this regard.
Referring to media reports, Fakhrul said all the educational institutions have been shut in the USA and emergency has been declared in different states while India has stopped issuing new visas. “The entire world has taken this matter very seriously. We think had there been a democratic government here, these problems would not have created in our country.”
He renewed their party’s demand for the release of their party chairperson Khaleda Zia on humanitarian ground.
Later, Fakhrul together with their party’s some leaders distributed leaflets titled “Protect Yourself from Corona” among pedestrians, passengers and drivers from Nayapaltan to Nightingale Crossing.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday opened Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga superhighway, the country’s first-ever access-controlled expressway that significantly improved the road connectivity between the capital and the country’s south and southwestern region.
The Prime Minister opened the 55-kilometre eye-catching six-lane expressway to traffic through videoconferencing from her official residence Ganobhaban.
She also opened the six-lane approach road of the third Karnaphuli Bridge (Shah Amanat Setu), and newly-constructed 25 bridges in Khulna, Barishal and Gopalganj road zones.
The 8-km approach road was constructed under the 3rd Karnaphuli Bridge Construction (revised) Project, while 25 bridges were constructed under the Western Bangladesh Bridge Improvement Project.
The Jatrabari-Mawa-Bhanga expressway on Dhaka-Khulna Highway opened a new era of road connectivity between the capital and south and southwestern parts of the country, reducing the travel time by several hours.
The expressway, having two service lanes, five flyovers, 19 underpasses, two interchanges, four railway over-bridges, four large bridges, 25 small bridges and 54 culverts, was constructed to ensure uninterrupted movement of vehicles with the southern parts of the country.
The people of 22 districts in the country’s south and southwestern region, including Munshiganj, will directly be benefited from the modern expressway.
Addressing the function, the Prime Minister said, “It’s the first-ever access-controlled expressway where there’s no traffic crossing system. The vehicles can move uninterruptedly.”
She said her government has relentlessly been working to improve the communication system in the entire country forming the government in 2009.
“We’re building a communication network throughout the country which will create scopes for further development of the country and its people,” said Hasina.
Later, the Prime Minister exchanged views with the stakeholders of the project areas in different districts through the videoconferencing.
Commuters can get the full advantage of the expressway once the 6.15-km Padma Bridge is completed as it will connect the two parts -- 35-km Jatrabari intersection to Mawa and 20-km Panchar to Bhanga -– of the expressway. The government has planned to open the country’s longest bridge for traffic by June 2021.
It now takes 5-7 hours to reach Faridpur from Dhaka using the two-lane road, which witnesses nagging traffic congestions at different points, and ferries in Mawa.
But the journey will not needlessly be longer because of traffic gridlock and slow-moving vehicles as the expressway was constructed with controlled access.
Two service lanes are kept on both sides of the expressway for slow-moving vehicles so that speedy vehicles can move uninterruptedly.
The expressway was constructed at a cost of Tk 11,003.90 crore considering the next 20-year traffic volume on the highway, which will be part of the Asian Highway, connecting Dhaka and Kolkata through the Benapole border and making international journey more comfortable.
The Roads and Highways Department and Bangladesh Army under the supervision of the Road Transport and Highways Division implemented the expressway project that was approved by Ecnec in 2016.
The expressway project was implemented three months before the stipulated time of June 2020.
Now it will take only 30-40 minutes instead of two hours to travel to Dhaka from Mawa as there will be no traffic jam on the expressway.
Addressing the launching event, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said, “Today, the country’s road communication is going to see a radical change with the opening of the country’s first-ever expressway.
“Now it’ll take only 30 minutes for commuters to reach Mawa from Dhaka using the expressway and it’ll take only 45 minutes to reach Bhanga from Dhaka once the construction of Padma Bridge is completed,” he said.
“It’s a very eye-catching road. I think, it’ll outshine many attention-grabbing roads in Europe,” said the Road Transport and Bridges Minister.
Chief of Army Staff General Aziz Ahmed also spoke at the function, conducted by PM’s Principal Secretary Dr. Ahmad Kaikaus.
Road Transport and Highways Division Secretary Md Nazrul Islam made a presentation on development works.
BNP on Wednesday alleged that the government is busy with the programmes of Mujib Year when panic has gripped people over the detection of three coronavirus cases in the country.
“Though an appalling situation has been created across the country over the coronavirus, the government has been demonstrating its extreme indifference to it as they’re giving every attention to the celebrations of the Mujib Year and remain busy with that,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
He came up with the allegation while speaking at a press briefing at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office.
The BNP leader alleged that some unscrupulous officials are selling coronavirus-free certificates at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport due to the lax monitoring by the government.
“There’s no effective system at the airport to identify if anyone enters the country with coronavirus. A group of dishonest officers are selling coronavirus-free certificates in exchange for money at the airport. It has already been published in the newspapers,” he said.
He said two people who returned home from Italy with the coronavirus could not be identified due to negligence of the airport officials.
The BNP leader said the duo was identified as the coronavirus patients as they themselves went to doctors for medical tests four days after returning home.
He said the country's borders and land ports remain unprotected while the airports do not have sufficient scanner machines though the government has been saying they are ready to prevent coronavirus.
Rizvi said most government hospitals in the country have no ICU bed, no ventilator machine and no medical masks required for the safety of doctors and nurses as the government has no effective preparation to tackle the coronavirus.
He also alleged that the government did not take any steps to ether increase the import of masks and sanitizers or raise local production to tackle the coronavirus situation causing the unusual hike in the prices of those necessary materials.
The BNP leader said though the government opened hotlines for coronavirus information, people cannot reach anyone by making repeated phone calls.
Rizvi said their party is going to distribute leaflets among people to make them aware of coronavirus and its preventive measures.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir will inaugurate the party’s awareness campaign by distributing leaflets in Nayapaltan area on Thursday.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Wednesday alleged that an influential quarter is behind the fire in Mirpur’s Rupnagar Slum and they did it to launch a housing project there.
Talking to reports after visiting the fire-hit spot, he also demanded an impartial investigation into the incident.
“We’re seeing repeated fire incidents in this Rupnagar slum. We had also come here a few days before the city corporation elections. The slum residents have an allegation that an influential quarter pampered by the ruling party is trying to build housing or plots here evicting the shanties,” the BNP leader said.
He further said, "We think a thorough investigation into this incident needs to be carried out, and it has to be neutral one free from any influence of any quarter.”
Fakhrul bemoaned that though the new housing projects are being taken for the wealthy section of people, no step has so far been adopted for ensuring the accommodation and rehabilitation of the slum dwellers and the hardcore poor. “It’s very unfortunate for us.”
Mentioning that low-income people stay in the shanties, he said those slum dwellers were subjected to the fire have become totally hapless as they lost their all belongings.
Fakhrul expressed deep sorrow over the losses suffered by the slum dwellers in the fire. “We also condemn the inaction of the authorities concerned regarding ensuring fire safety of the slum dwellers even after repeated such incidents.”
He also voiced anger over fire fighters’ delayed repose to extinguish the blaze.
The BNP leader expressed sympathy to the fire victims and demanded the government ensure proper compensation for them and their rehabilitation.
He assured the fire victims that their party will stand by them.
The massive fire which broke out at Rupnagar Slum in the city’s Mirpur area on Wednesday morning was brought under control after around three hours of frantic efforts by the fire fighters.
Witnesses said over 100 shanties were gutted in the devastating fire.