Every day, up to 3,500 people throng the largest customs station of the country
A fear of contracting Covid-19 is spreading among the employees of Chattogram Custom House and the Chittagong Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents Association as one has died from the virus and 13 have tested positive for the virus till May 28.
Nur-A-Hasna Sanjida Anusuya, assistant commissioner of the Audit Investigation and Research unit of the custom house, said six revenue officials, six assistant revenue officers and one computer operator have been infected with the virus till May 28.
Employees of the clearing and forwarding (C&F) agents, working on the jetty of the port, have grown worried – after an employee of the one stop service at the Transport Department of Chattogram port died from Covid-19. The monitoring activities of customs officials at the port have been decreased due to this crisis.
Every day from 3,000 to 3,500 people – including the employees of the customs station, C&F agents and their employees – throng Chattogram Custom House, the largest customs station of the country.
Mohammad Fakhrul Alam, commissioner of Chattogram Custom House, said, "No other office in Bangladesh deals with such a large number of people every day like Chattogram Custom House. So, the employees here are contracting the novel coronavirus."
However, he mentioned several measures taken to prevent novel coronavirus infections at the custom house.
Everybody's temperature is monitored with a thermometer at the main gate of the custom house. Nobody is allowed to enter without a face mask. Every day, temperatures of all the employees are monitored. If any of them feels unwell, he or she is advised to stay at home. Additionally, different offices of the custom house have been reorganised.
However, it is very difficult to maintain social distancing in the custom house. This is because: each floor of the three-storey building of the custom house, the entrance of the bank on the ground floor, the custom house's hall room, and the hall room for the C&F agents become crowded every day.
An employee of the custom station, seeking anonymity, said they are helpless and working with the fear of contracting the virus at any time. They cannot maintain social distancing while working in the custom house and on the jetty.
Jakir Hossain, general secretary of C&F Agents' Workers' Union, said, "More than 2,000 C&F agents' employees work at Chattogram Custom House every day. They have to move through a narrow staircase. The hall room of the custom house and other departments remain crowded. The employees are at risk as they do not have any personal protective equipment."
AKM Akhter Hossain, president of Chattogram C&F Agents' Association, said, "There is no scope of working from home for C&F agents' employees. So, there are risks of spreading the novel coronavirus. The employees are directed to work wearing masks and following health guidelines."