Thousands of readymade garment (RMG) factory workers started heading back to Dhaka from northern and southern districts on Saturday to save their jobs, ignoring risks to their lives and a potential coronavirus outbreak.
The government has shutdown educational institutions, cut off mass transports and urged people to stay indoors to contain the spread of the virus. But its efforts will face a tough challenge as thousands start returning to the capital to attend work.
Bangladesh’s labour-intensive RMG sector is particularly vulnerable to coronavirus outbreak which could seriously hamstring operations and push down the country’s export earnings, most of which come from here.
Health work experts have urged the government to pay attention to the sector, the second largest exporter of goods after China, to prevent a possible outbreak here since people work in close proximity to each other.
People who are returning are mostly RMG workers and they say they are faced with the difficult choice of either staying home and losing jobs or returning to work braving coronavirus.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Thursday said buyers have so far cancelled orders worth $3 billion following the coronavirus outbreak, affecting 1,092 factories and approximately 2.16 million workers.
In Munshiganj, hundreds of people were seen crossing the Padma River by ferry and speed boats defying the risk of coronavirus spread.
Asked about how they came to the ferry terminal, most of them said they came by microbus, motorcycle, human haulers and covered vans as public transports were suspended.
Bangladesh Army set up a check post at Louhajang on Dhaka-Mawa Highway and sending back all kinds of vehicles.
People were seen using the Louhajang-Tongibari-Munshiganj-Narayanganj route for the restriction on Dhaka-Mawa Highway.