Although the banks will be open for two hours, bankers have to stay at the office longer
Bankers are worried about how they will go to the office when the entire country is under a shutdown to prevent the spread of the highly-contagious coronavirus.
"I have to go to my office in Gulshan 2 from my house in Banasree," said a female employee of a private bank, adding there is no public transportation on the roads.
Some bankers have to go to their offices in Motijheel from Uttara and Mirpur – around 15 to and 20 kilometres away from their residences.
"Not every banker has their own car. Many of us use public transportation for transit," said an angry banker.
Like many other countries in the world, Bangladesh also enforced a shutdown starting on March 26.
However, the shutdown does not apply to banks which have been told to stay open from Sunday to Thursday during the week.
Although the banks will be open for two hours – from 10am to 12 noon for cash-related transactions only – bankers have to stay at the office till 1:30 pm.
Many bankers told The Business Standard that they are planning to carpool with their colleagues for convenience.
However, employees of most of the state-owned banks do not have such an arrangement.
Bankers also claimed that many banks, especially state-owned ones, do not have enough safety measures to protect their employees and customers from coronavirus.
According to employees of the corporate branch of Sonali Bank in Agrabad, Chattogram, the branch has no safety measures. Top management of the bank, however, denied the allegations, claiming they have taken sufficient measures.
The Feni branch of Rupali Bank has also not taken any safety measures, according to an employee of the branch.
Obayed Ullah Al Masud, managing director of Rupali Bank, said they did not get enough time to take sufficient safety measures at all their branches.
"However we have bought hand sanitiser, which will be provided to the branches after the general holiday."
He also said that the bank will engage only 30 percent of its employees this week to provide limited banking services, and also arrange transport for employees.
Last week, banks faced a huge rush of cash withdrawals from their branches and ATM booths ahead of the shutdown.
So the need for cash transactions at bank branches may not be that numerous now. If anybody does run out of cash, they can collect it from ATM booths.
Bangladesh Bank spokesperson and Executive Director Md Serajul Islam told The Business Standard that bankers have a responsibility to serve their customers and ensure a usual flow of cash.
"Banks can bring in employees on a rotational basis. They are not even required to keep all branches open."
"Public transportation may be limited during the shutdown, but bankers are responsible for reaching their respective branches as it is their duty," Serajul added.
From last Wednesday, banks began posting notices on their websites and ATM booths mentioning which branches would remain open during the shutdown.
The City Bank decided to keep 74 of its branches open, while the United Commercial Bank and One Bank decided to keep 60 and 74 of their respective branches open.
Customers said many ATM booths have installed hand sanitiser and disinfectant sprays.
However, many other banks have yet to implement this measure.