Benapole port users at risk of Covid infection | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 21, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, April 21, 2021

Benapole port users at risk of Covid infection

Reluctance to follow safety guidelines is to blame

Around 10,000 people involved with the Benapole port are at risk of getting infected with Covid-19 due to their reluctance to abide by health safety guidelines.

During a visit to the port on April 17, this correspondent found no truck being sprayed with disinfectants during entry or exit while no driver going through health checks.

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Taking advantage of a lack of supervision by the port authorities, Indian and Bangladeshi truck drivers are roaming around the port without any safety equipment. Other did have masks, albeit hanging around their necks.

Many security personnel are also turning a blind eye to health safety standards.

The Benapole port has been kept out of the purview of the seven-day countrywide lockdown from April 14 under special arrangements to ensure smooth operation of factories.

As a result, there was no barrier on import and export goods through rail and land routes via Benapole.

Disinfectants are no longer being sprayed on Indian and Bangladeshi trucks in the port area, said truck driver Shafiqul Islam.

"An increasing number of people are getting infected with the Covid-19 every day. The authorities concerned should take immediate measures to make everyone follow health and safety guidelines," said Abdul Latif, joint general secretary of the Benapole Importers and Exporters Association.

Around 1,500 truck drivers and their assistants travel between the two countries every day to transport import and export goods between Benapole and Petrapole ports, said Raju Ahmed, secretary of Benapole Port Handling Workers Union.

Health workers were active at the railway station when trade restarted after a shutdown in the middle of last year, said Saiduzzaman, master of Benapole Railway Station. "Now no health worker comes here."

The operations to maintain of health and hygiene are now facing some challenges due to a manpower crisis, said Abdul Jalil, director of the Benapole port.

"In consultation with the health department, all safety measures will be implemented in the port very soon," he assured.

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