Imagine entering a market in your locality that has essentials like rice, potatoes, vegetables, facemasks, and soaps maintaining social distance, and that too for free!
As exceptional as it may sound, the 34th Engineering Construction Brigade of Bangladesh Army set up such a market titled "One Minute Bazar" on the playground of Agrabad Government Colony School in Chattogram yesterday.
Over a 1,000 people of lower income groups who have been badly hit by the ongoing shutdown for Covid-19 took the free items from the market.
This was the second time such a market was set up. Earlier, the very first market was set up at Chattogram's Jamiatul Falah national masque's ground on Wednesday.
Bangladesh Army's 34 Engineering Construction Brigade's Director General Brig Gen Ahmed Tanvir Mazhar Siddique inaugurated the bazar. The bazar started at 10:00am and ended at 11:00am.
Talking to the reporters, Brig Gen Ahmed Tanvir said, "It's not a relief disbursing programme. We are trying to form a model market for the lower-income people so that they can also get bazar like others."
"Earlier, 1,000 more people were the given support through the market on Wednesday", he added.
In the market, tables were set up in a planned manner. At the entrance of the market, several basins with soaps and water were given. Washing the hands, the poor who came to the market entered maintaining proper social distance.
On the first table shopping bags, masks and soap were kept where people were seen to pick the items on the table.
Packets of rice, potatoes, ladies fingers, arum-lobe, and cowpea vegetables were also kept on the different tables and each person took one packet of each items from tables and completed their shopping within one minute.
Along with destitute people, significant numbers of physically challenged people were seen to get the items from the bazar.
Bangladesh Army's 34 Engineering Construction Brigade's Deputy Director Col Abul Hasnat Mohammed Sayem said, "We have bought the vegetables from root-level farmers and vegetables growers in Chattogram in exchange of proper price with an aim to resume the economy from the ground level during the shutdown."
Army officials have said they prepared a list of the 1,000 destitute peoples from different areas and as per the list token were provided to them.
They were given the food items freely after showing the token. Plus, those who came to the market for help were also given the items.
Under the initiative, 20,000 lower-income and poor people would be given aid, said army officials.
Like the market, Army has a plan to set up few more markets in different points in the city so that the people can respite from the hardships.
Roksana Akhter, 40, mother of three children, who came to the market, said she had been passing hard times for the last one and a half months as her transport worker husband's income went down to zero.
Such kind of initiative brought happiness to her family, she added.
Sakhina Begum, who came to the market boarding on a wheelchair, said "I am very happy to have the items in the crisis moment."
The organisers of the market also said they had a plan to launch "One Minute Eid Bazar" for the poor before Eid so that they can celebrate the holy event too.