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The Financial Express

Chattogram traders concerned over fresh lockdown


Representational image — Collected Representational image — Collected

Traders and general public in the port city on Friday voiced concern over imposition of a new lockdown next week, saying businesses will collapse and survival of many will be at stake if fresh shutdown is imposed or stricter health rules are enforced.

They viewed that lockdown is not a proper and effective way to check spread of COVID-19, saying rather the infection will be curbed by setting up new hospitals and clinics dedicated for coronavirus patients, increasing virus testing and treatment facilities at existing hospitals and health complexes, and increasing supply of vaccines and ensuring access to vaccination for all.

The government is planning to enforce a fresh lockdown with stricter rules from Apr 14 after the current weeklong nationwide shutdown ends on Apr 13 as the state minister for public administration said on Friday that a notice would be issue by Sunday on the new lockdown.

Mr Farhad Hossain also said everyone will be under the purview of the new lockdown and all government, semi-government, private offices and organisations, except emergency service providers, will remain shut during the fresh seven-day shutdown.

Following the news of the ensuing lockdown, business leaders and traders, including industry owners, exporters, small traders and hawkers expressed the fear for their businesses and suffering huge losses again like last year.

President of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), Mahbubul Alam, said lockdown is not a permanent solution for combating coronavirus.

The government should talk with all stakeholders before taking a decision on clamping a new lockdown, he said.

"We should increase our medical facilities for patients immediately (to check the virus infection rate). If the government wants to impose a (fresh) lockdown the authority should talk with stakeholders. But without holding discussion (with stakeholders) on the situation, ministers announced plans to enforce the weeklong shutdown without considering the country's economic situation."

Sayed Khurshid Alam, Chattogram district chapter general secretary of Bangladesh Shop Owners Association, told the FE that any new lockdown will damage businesses of all shop owners ahead of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr. Ramadan month will start from Tuesday evening.

Mr Khurshid Alam said the shop owners could not do Eid business due to a series of countrywide lockdowns and nonstop general holidays last year which severely harmed businesses.

"Now, the government is trying to damage the economy (by imposing a series of lockdowns this year)," he said.

"Government officials will get salaries during lockdowns, but how the staff of shops would get their wages before the Eid?" he added.

President of Chattogram New Market Merchants' Welfare Association, Mohammed Sager, said, "Why fresh lockdown? We urge the government not to impose the lockdown and enforce health rules strictly."

Fazlul Amin, organising secretary of Jahur Hawkers Market Traders Association said, "How the traders and staff will survive if shops remain closed due to fresh lockdown before Eid? How can we continue our business and how can we pay wages to the staff before the Eid?"

"We have to open the markets for the sake of livelihoods of businessmen and employees of shops," he added.

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