Both city corporations in the capital appear indifferent to the spread of the novel coronavirus as they are yet to take any meaningful measures in this regard.
City commuters and residents said that they saw no activity by the two city corporations while 33 people, including 15 in the capital alone, were already infected by the virus in the country with three of them dead
Dhaka south city mayor Mohammad Sayeed Khokon on Monday told New Age that the government was making all the decisions and his city corporation was working in collaboration with the central agency responsible.
City commuters said that spraying the public buses with disinfectants was important to make them safe for the commuters but it was not being done.
‘The city corporations don’t seem to feel any responsibility in this regard, I think,’ said Hemayet Hayat, a private employee.
Sayeed Khokon said that the public transports could not be made safe by spraying them with disinfectants, they had to be shut down.
‘We are, therefore, not disinfecting the public buses,’ he said.
But, ensuring public health and medical facilities for the safety of the residents was one of the core responsibilities of the city corporations, according to their citizen charters.
Noting that the shop owners have already decided to close their shops across the country, Sayeed Khokon said that if the situation demanded they would help extend the closure in consultation with the government.
Taking any decision in the capital all of a sudden is not possible as it is a densely populated city, he said.
‘I am working slowly and gradually based on needs,’ he said.
In a public notification, the Dhaka Transport Cooperation Authority on Saturday asked the city corporations to facilitate hand washing and set up coronavirus control cells at the bus terminals.
But no such facilities were found at the terminals at Gabtoli, Fulbaria and Saydabad as of Monday.
Officials of the city corporations said that they were working according to the central government’s direction.
They too said that the city corporations had nothing to do individually, as it was a global crisis, but to help the central health department to implement their measures smoothly.
Commuters said that although there were some pre-installed hand-washing facilities inside bus terminals but soap or other disinfectants were not available there.
City dwellers said that the local government bodies could do many things to ensure public health safety by monitoring public gatherings, disinfecting public spaces, limiting public gatherings as other countries were doing to fight the coronavirus.
Sayeed Khokon said that he had sat with experts time and again and was trying to grasp the situation to take further decisions.
After a meeting with experts on Sunday Khokon suspected that the coronavirus situation would be more critical in early April, he said.
He offered the observation that due to uncontrolled movement of expatriates the virus situation got worse.
‘It was a dangerous blunder to have allowed expatriates to roam around,’ he added.
Dhaka north city corporation chief health Officer Mominur Rahman Mamun said that the DNCC had formed ward-level committees on Saturday to control the spread of COVID-19.
On Saturday, the city corporation formed a five-member ward level committee in each ward headed by the ward councillor to ensure the quarantine of the suspects.
The committee will also ensure that no public gathering takes place in their ward and hand washing facilities are set up at public spots.
Officials said that the DNCC ordered its mosquito-control employees to spray anti-infection liquid in the suspected areas.
On the same day, the DNCC inaugurated spraying of anti-infection chemicals inside the public buses from its two bus terminals at Gabtoli and Mohakhali.
But, workers of the limited number of buses still plying on city roads said that none in the terminals sprayed their buses and they saw none there to monitor the situation.
The DNCC in a press release on Monday claimed that three water bowsers sprayed 50 lakh litres of disinfectants in seven lakh 50,000 square feet areas, including Karwanbazar, Tolarbagh of Mirpu, Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital and Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital.
While the city corporation central authority was indifferent, a ward councilor of the DSCC closed all sorts of eateries, food shops, tea stalls, bakeries and street food shops in Kamrangirchar in the capital until further notice due to the prevailing coronavirus situation.
Kamrangirchar is Dhaka south city’s ward 57.
According to a notification, the shops of essential items would remain open as usual in the ward.
The ward’s councillor, Saidul Islam Matbar, on Saturday told New Age that considering the current coronavirus situation he issued the order to shut the eateries after discussing the matter with the local MP.
He said that to help the local poor people he asked the city mayor to allocate cash and essential goods for them.
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