A government body has suggested banning the sale of inferior-quality health safety gear on footpaths in the interest of the consumers, officials said.
The directorate of national consumer rights protection (DNCRP), which operates under commerce ministry, has made the recommendations to this effect, they added.
It has asked the city corporations and law-enforcement agencies concerned to police the trade of such substandard protective tools at temporary sales points in Dhaka city.
In the wake of coronavirus pandemic, the DNCRP received allegations of sales of duplicate protective tools like hand rub, mask, sanitiser and hand gloves on footpaths.
The sale of poor-quality safety gears is creating higher health risks alongside hampering the government initiatives to stop the spread of the superbug in Bangladesh, a source said.
Such safety items are being sold rampantly in Dhaka and other cities, he said, adding that the authorities want to stop sales of duplicate safety products shortly.
There are limitations in the Consumer Rights Protection Act-2009 to take legal action against hawkers for doing any anti-consumer activities, according to the DNCRP.
A commerce ministry official said, "On June 28, we received a DNCRP letter. We're scrutinising the issue for taking the next course of action to this end."
Substandard health protective gears are on sale everywhere for a lack of adequate legal steps, said a competent source who has good knowledge of the matter.
Such low-quality masks and gloves are being marketed at cheaper prices and these are not effective in fighting COVID-19, he observed.
"We have learnt that some dishonest traders are making hand sanitiser by mixing water and dye banking on the demand for such health products."
Besides, unscrupulous traders have been selling N-95 mask extortionately at Tk 400-2,000 apiece.
Law-enforcement agencies have taken legal action against several firms and shops for producing and selling subnormal safety kits that rather imperil the lives of corona cases and frontline fighters alike.
The supply of substandard masks to several state-run hospitals instead of N95 masks was revealed through social media in early April.
Sources said the Anti-Corruption Commission has taken required initiatives on reported corruption in the procurement of N-95 masks and personal protective equipment for caregivers.
Fearing a possible scarcity of safety kits amid virus infections, strict monitoring of production, supply, import and marketing of such items has been suggested, according to a home ministry report.
According to section 78 (30) of the Act, "No person shall be made liable under this Act if such person, as hawker or peddler, to earn his livelihood, buys and sells any goods which are adulterated, fake or in any way defected and for this reason the rights of consumers are affected, unless it is comprehend beyond reasonable doubt that he, with a motive to gain profit illegally, has bought and sold the goods to any buyer intentionally, knowingly or collusively."
"If any quick perishable goods, such as fish or vegetables, are found perished for natural effect from any hawker or peddler or in any shop, no criminal proceeding or administrative action shall be taken against such hawker, peddler or shop keeper accusing as such, unless it is comprehend beyond reasonable doubt that he has kept such goods for selling or tried to sell such goods knowingly that such goods has perished," section 78 (4) mentioned.
A senior DNCRP official told the FE that "We've been working regularly to create awareness among hawkers not to do any anti-consumer activities."