As demand for protective masks soared amid impending fear for the spread of coronavirus across the country, more than three dozen small tailoring houses in Saidpur upazila town have been producing around 12 thousand affordable face masks.
Nearly 500 workers, mostly women, have been working round the clock at 35 to 40 factories set up in Nayatola, Mistripara, Munshipara, Chowmuhoni, Shahid Atiar Colony, Nimbagan and other parts of the town.
With wholesale price of Tk 20 each, the factories are not only meeting demand for masks in Nilphamari, but also catering to the demands in surrounding districts.
While this correspondent was visiting Saidpur town, known for the largest rail workshop in the country, information on personal hygiene and coronavirus awareness was being announced through loud speakers set up on vehicles that were plying the streets of the town.
Delwar Hossain, a factory owner in Chowmuhoni area, said, "I have ten electric sewing machines in my factory and I can make 3,000 to 3,500 masks per day. It costs about Tk 13 to Tk 14 to make each mask and I sell each for Tk 20 to wholesale buyers."
Another small tailoring factory owner in Shahid Atiar colony area, Mohammad Hanif, said while making masks at an affordable price is a good public service at a time of crisis, the makers are also earning good profits from high volume of sales.
Wholesale buyers from Rangpur, Dinajpur, Nilphamari, Thakurgaon and Panchagarh are making advance payments and thronging the factories every day to pick up their deliveries, he added.
Mask trader Abdul Hannan who is based in Nilphamari town, said the masks made in Saidpur factories are good in quality and at the same time, those are affordable. "I can make Tk 10 profit from each mask I sell."
Praising the factory owners in Saidpur, Munshipara area resident Dulal Hossain said it has been a good gesture on the factory owners' part that they stopped production of regular garment items and started making affordable face masks.
Saidpur Small Garment Factory Owners' Association President Akhtar Hossain Khan said they were happy to be able to be a part of the nation's efforts in containing the virus and the profit has been an added bonus.