As police do not have authority to order factories to close, they keep requesting manufacturers so that they suspend production amid the Covid-19 outbreak
Around 114 factories, including 18 garment manufacturers, in Chattogram are continuing production in defiance of shutdown orders.
Medical experts said that remaining operational amid the coronavirus outbreak exposes several lakhs of workers to infection risks.
They said the attitude is suicidal and reckless as a ready-made garment (RMG) factory official and his family members in the port city have already been infected by Covid-19.
Locals vented anger over the continued production since the government has announced stimulus for these industries.
Senior Assistant Superintendent of Chattogram Industrial Police Kamrul Hasan said they were discouraging the factory owners to keep their production units open.
"But many factories are open in Chattogram's Pahartoli area where the virus infection risks are high," added Kamrul.
The police official, however, said they do not have the authority to order factories to close. Therefore, they keep requesting the manufacturers so that they suspend production amid the pandemic.
At least seven factories are open at Pahartoli and adjacent areas, while five industries, including four RMG factories, are in production at Chattogram Export Processing Zone (EPZ).
Md Khorshid Alam, general manager of the zone, said they were allowing some factories with urgent shipments or at the final stage of order completion to continue.
He said nearly 700 workers at 15 factories worked on shipments on Thursday. Besides, two personal protective equipment suppliers are continuing production.
Meanwhile, Karnaphuli EPZ General Manager (in-charge) Moshiuddin Bin Mesbah claimed that currently no factory, except three or four for salary payment, is open at the EPZ.
However, at least 16 factories are open at Karnaphuli area.
Keeping factories open defying orders of the government and other trade organisations is sheer carelessness, said Dr Shusanta Barua, member secretary of the Chattogram Public Health Rights Protection Committee.
Dr Shusanta believes such callousness can prompt a massive coronavirus outbreak.
"Then each factory will appear as a cluster. Though the manufacturers often claim that the factories take precautionary measures, it is impossible to maintain social distancing in production lines.
"On top of that, the cramped accommodations for textile workers would fuel up the spread of Covid-19," added the healthcare activist.
Mohammad Atique, Chattogram region director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said they strictly ordered factories to stay shut.
"If anyone dares to continue operation, we will not take his or her responsibility," he added.
According to the Chattogram Industrial Police, the port city has 1,229 factories, including around 711 RMG factories.