I risked my life during the general holidays and ran to the bank, customs or port. But I could not do anything in those places without a bribe
When the horrific pandemic of Covid-19 hit China, business friends there repeatedly warned and feared that it would spread quickly to Bangladesh and the world.
Being cautious, I consulted with my company colleagues on how to deal with the disaster in the first week of February.
Although there was no guideline on specific health care measures at the time, I took many random initiatives such as purchasing masks, sanitising materials, etc. I also emphasised on keeping the office or home clean and adding vitamin-rich foods to the official food list.
Although many office workers did not understand the importance of the issue, they did not lack preparation.
Considering China's success in containing the virus in a short time, I thought we would be released in two months. But we lost the "golden opportunity through negligence" to resist the pandemic.
Being a general businessman, I jumped into the battle for survival with about 60 associates of my organisation, an organisation that was built over more than two decades.
On March 21, I first sent more than half of the company's members on paid leave and at March 25 I sent the rest. I formed an emergency back-up team with seven people as the head.
Meanwhile, goods of the company worth crores of taka were in the port. I risked my life during the general holidays and ran to the bank, customs or port. But I could not do anything in those places without a bribe. And finally, I was unable to finish the work at the end of the day.
My family members at home were restless with anxiety. My only son is studying in America where the coronavirus was already causing havoc. He had no chance to return to Bangladesh. As a result, the anxiety of the family members was growing.
To save the company with a group of young associates, I started fighting by making the office, warehouse or workshop a place to stay. I assured the clients, it is a battle, and the morale should not be lost.
However, one by one, all industries began to close.
At first, the government took great decisions to control the infection by cutting off communication with China, but the affected expatriates from the Middle East or Europe flocked in droves. After that, it was possible to handle the situation by locking down Shibchar of Madaripur district. It gave us some hope.
But, suddenly everything became random. The government declared general holidays instead of strict lockdown. Then there was the game of opening and closing. As a result, both life and economy became an easy victim of Covid-19.
There was no opportunity to borrow from banks, which means the quota is full. Bank interest was rising clockwise. Factories were closed and goods destroyed. Returning money to the bank and paying salaries, allowance, office rent, etc., as well as the running cost, became a problem.
Meanwhile, coronavirus continued to spread. I found myself in a tough challenge. I have to save myself; I have to save my colleagues; I have to save the organisation.
In the meantime, the announcement of opening the economy came. Some factories opened and faced new problems. Many machines are not working because they were unused for a long time. Sensor-based electronic machinery is crippled. Many workers are not coming to the factories fearing the virus infection.
The closure of exporting manufactured goods and the crisis of buyers in the local market also depressed the entrepreneurs.
But the wheel of bank interest is always running. Thus, the industries and its owners are in danger of going bankrupt. If the industrialist goes bankrupt, the worker will not survive.
I thought the duration of the disaster would be two to three months. But due to the inaction of the authorities, it is no longer difficult to understand that it will not conclude before the end of the year.
The news of the deaths of relatives and friends is now coming from all around.
The situation is getting more and more complicated. There will be no arrangement for burial if you die of Covid-19 and if you survive, you will have to go to jail for defaulting bank loans.
Now I understand- why do the world's big businessmen go bankrupt, or why they commit suicide?
The author is Managing Director, Bridge Chemie ltd.