To help the low earners during this crisis, the Gulshan Society has come up with a “Solidarity Pack” containing rice, edible oil, potato and lentil for each of 450 registered rickshaw pullers
The Dhaka city's Gulshan area that covers a diplomatic zone usually sees less movement of traffic. But what is unusual amid coronavirus worries is that the alleys are now almost empty with Gulshan people having locked themselves down at home.
After a long interval, one or two rickshaw pullers are seen carrying a single passenger. Both riders and pullers wearing face masks do not talk to each other unless it is for bargaining fares.
A Gulshan Society registered rickshaw puller Abdullah said the number of his passengers in the area has dropped drastically, so has his daily income.
To help the low earners during this crisis, the Gulshan Society has come up with a "Solidarity Pack" containing rice, edible oil, potato and lentil for each of 450 registered rickshaw pullers.
The food relief will be enough to feed a four-member family a week.
Moreover, a team of volunteers are manufacturing hand sanitisers for the rickshaw pullers and cleaners to contain the risk of coronavirus transmission, said Barrister Shukla Sarwat Siraj, general secretary at the Gulshan Society.
Brac University's pharmacy department is supporting this project.
Shukla told The Business Standard, "Most low-earning service providers reside in neighbouring slums where the risk of coronavirus infection is high. The society people are dependent on them. If we put a restriction on their entry, the whole area will collapse."
Around 150 cleaners are working in the society. Initially, the society tried to arrange personal protection equipment (PPE) for the cleaners.
"But the price of PPE seems very expensive. Hence, we have decided to arrange personal cleaning products for the cleaners and rickshaw pullers," Shukla said adding that from Wednesday, they began to distribute bottles of hand sanitiser, hand gloves and face masks among the target people.
Led by the Gulshan Society's general secretary, a 10-member Covid-19 taskforce has been formed to monitor the cleanliness campaign around the Gulshan area.
The territory of Gulshan Society covers the Rajuk's Gulshan Model Town where around 50,000 families live in. The area hosts nearly four lakh people including office staff.
The taskforce has been monitoring regular drives to disinfect densely populated spots like the Dhaka City Corporation Market-1, 2 in Gulshan.
Shukla said, "Our volunteers prepare a bleaching solution as per the Dhaka North City Corporation-recommended formula. Every day, the liquid solution is sprayed on the densely populated spots."
She believes that well-off Gulshan residents do not need hand sanitiser.
"Rather, they should be conscious. The Gulshan Society sends a cautionary text message to the residents' cell phone every day so that they do not panic and ensure household cleanliness," she said.
Sultan Ahmed, the caretaker of a building beside 51 Gulshan Road, said he bought a bottle of hand sanitiser and a bottle of hand soap for the building's sentry room. And the arrangement will continue.
"The apartment owners have told me to do this. Anyone crossing the entrance needs to sanitise hands," Sultan said.
Meanwhile, a private car driver named Akram Hossain said his employer has provided him with a box of hand gloves and two pieces of face mask.
As part of protective measures, the society has blocked the Gulshan Society Jame Mosque for prayers at mass. The access to the Gulshan Society Lake Park for joggers has also been limited.
"According to the government directives, the whole Gulshan area will be under lockdown till April 4. The next course of action will be decided after monitoring the corona situation," Shukla said.