The city corporations have decided to allow holding makeshift cattle markets ahead of the Eid festival. Health experts say such decision would be highly risky amid worsening corona situation.
Maintaining hygiene and physical distancing in the city’s upcoming sacrificial cattle markets marking Eid-ul-Azha would be a very challenging as the Covid-19 transmission continues to spread, the health experts observed.
The Dhaka north and south city corporations have decided to set up makeshift cattle markets at 24 places in Dhaka and have already published tenders in national newspapers. The health experts fear that the decision to arrange cattle markets to sell sacrificial animals ahead of the Eid festival amid the coronavirus crisis could be highly risky if health safety measures are not properly maintained.
According to them, this decision is against public health as neither physical distancing nor hygiene can be ensured in the crowded cattle markets.
On the other hand, the city corporation officials said the decision was made primarily to ensure social distance and everything will depend on the government's decision.
This year, Dhaka South City Corporation (DNCC) has decided to set up some 14 cattle markets and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) has decided to hold 10 cattle markets in its territory.
About the cattle markets, Dr Mushtaq Hossain, a former Chief Scientific Officer of Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said, “In the current coronavirus situation, setting up a sacrificial animal market in Dhaka is a decision against public health. Therefore, setting up of such temporary animal markets should not be allowed.”
He said,“Animals can be traded in different places of small size. But, setting up larger cattle markets, where a large number of buyers and sellers will assemble, is not safe for public health at all. Of course, alternative arrangements can be made.”
It is also the responsibility of the two city corporations to ensure security as per the lease of the makeshift markets. Besides, ensuring hygiene and social distancing are added as a new challenge this year.
In this regard, Chief Estate Officer of DNCC Md Mozammel Haque told Bangladesh Post, “We will fix and implement our action plan in accordance with the health safety directives that will come from the Department of Health regarding hygiene and social distancing.”
“We have also outlined specific guidelines on maintaining hygiene and social distancing in the cattle markets in the tender notification published in the newspapers,” he added.
Meanwhile, doubts have started to surface about whether the city corporations will be able to ensure social distancing or maintain hygiene at the crowded cattle markets. Because, during corona, the government allowed the garments factory owners to open their factories on the condition of maintaining social distancing and following hygiene rules.
However, it was observed that most of the garments factory owners did not abide by those conditions making things even worse.
After that, other factories and shopping malls were also opened in phases on the same condition. However, none of these conditions were implemented properly.
The picture has been more obvious in the capital’s kitchen markets and wholesale markets.
Health experts raised questions that when people in general are not following health safety rules or in other words, most of the public are ignorant about wearing masks and hand gloves, and maintaining social distancing, how can the authorities knowing such reality can plan to allow mass gathering like opening cattle markets?
Urban planner and architect Iqbal Habib said, “The prevalence of coronavirus in the country is still increasing, that too very rapidly. The government has decided to bring the situation under control by dividing the city into Red Zone, Green Zone and Yellow Zone. The city corporation will implement this decision. But we saw that without the decision of the Corona Prevention National Committee, two city corporations have issued tender for the lease of 24 cattle markets in Dhaka.”
“This is completely a wrong decision. If no rules are followed in this regard, then all the achievements of the government in controlling coronavirus will go in vain,” he added.