Bankers ‘at risk’ for lack of protective gear

Anisul Islam Noor

1 April, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Bank officials alleged that they lack sufficient safety measures and protective equipment though they have to work 10:00 am to 12:00 am with a huge rush of customers.

“There are no transportation facilities to travel to the office during an extended public holiday when public transports are also restricted. However, we have been using different modes of public transports, making us more vulnerable to coronavirus infection,” a banker said, adding that there is no compensation for them whatsoever. 

Shariful Alam, an employee of a private bank, told the Daily Sun that top officials of different state-owned and private commercial banks are staying at home as per office instructions.

“But mid-level officials have to go to the office. I am going to work despite the risks only to save my job,” he said.

As per the directive of Bangladesh Bank (BB), banks will offer transaction services from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon during the general holiday meant for preventing the spread of Coronavirus.

Though the presence of customers was thin in the first two days (Sunday and Monday) of this week, the banks witnessed a larger volume of customers on Tuesday---some braches received around 1,200 cheques for clearing.

Rush was seen to open Letter of Credits (LCs) for importing raw materials and other materials from the pharmaceutical and food industries.

Bank officials said they have no objection to going to work. But minimal safety measures have not been put in place to protect themselves from susceptible diseases like coronavirus.

Where the doctors are not touching the patients without getting a protective garment, the bank staff have to touch hundreds of banknotes every day from the customers without sufficient protective gears, they argued.

We have to deal only with hand gloves, which we think is not safe at this moment. But the top executives of banks and central bank are not even thinking more safety measures other than those, mid-level bankers have alleged.

However, BB spokesperson Md. Serajul Islam told the Daily Sun that the central bank gave directives to all banks including state-owned and private to arrange necessary safety measured for the staff and officials those go to work.

“At the end of the month, the banks usually face an extra rush of payment, clearing different Cheques and LCs payment. That is why the central bank is working with all banks to help these things run smoothly,” Serajul Islam said.

Ali Reza Iftekhar, president of the Association of Bankers, Bangladesh (ABB) said all banks have agreed to arrange necessary mask, gloves, hand sanitizers for the bank employees.

Besides, bank offices and branches have been asked to spray disinfectant inside the office and the entrance every two hours, he said.

Replying a quarry, he said personal protective equipment (PPE) is not applicable for the bank employees.