Around 12-15 people were standing in a queue in front of a truck near the National Press Club on Wednesday, waiting for the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) to sell essential goods.
The customers were standing too close to each other, showing a blatant disregard for social distancing, which is a must to stem the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. They were standing in the queue well within the touching distance.
Responding to a query, a government official named Wahab Mia said, "I totally forgot that standing in such close proximity to others could spread coronavirus infection.
"Actually, I have developed a habit of standing in close queues, because I do it all the time."
However, Wahab Mia then requested the people near him to spread out more while standing in the queue.
The government has directed everyone to maintain social distancing not only with people outside home, but also with family members, to mitigate the transmission of the Covid-19 virus.
The price of essential commodities across the markets in Dhaka has gone up due to panic buying prompted by coronavirus fears.
The TCB sale of essentials at fair prices is benefitting a lot of people, but there are concerns that the initiative could cause the virus infection to spread further.
On spot visits to several areas, The Business Standard has witnessed close queues of customers in front of TCB's truck sales points near the National Press Club, the Secretariat gate and Panthapath areas.
Several customers said they did not think about social distancing while standing in queues, despite the issue being one of the most discussed matters on social and mass media.
A student named Kamrul Islam, who visited the Panthapath sales point to buy essentials, said, "We all want to buy the goods as fast as we can, and then return home quickly. I had forgotten about social distancing due to the rush."
Salesman of this point, Shariful Islam, said, "People are forming queues all day long. Due to the pressure of the customers, we forget to warn them about social distancing.
"Sometimes I tell them to stand far from each other, but most of the time that suggestion falls on deaf ears."
Md Sumon, who is one of the sales representatives of the National Press Club sales point, reiterated the same statement.
However, all three sales representatives on the truck were seen sitting closely while weighing and selling goods.
Commenting on the issue, TCB spokesperson Md Humayun Kabir said, "We have instructed the dealers to relay the message [about social distancing] to customers. We have also sent a letter to the police to handle all issues related to truck sales.
"They have been tasked with monitoring the issue."
Bangshal Police Station Officer-in-Charge Shahin Fakir said, "We are using loudspeakers to raise awareness among people of buying essential commodities while maintaining social distance.
"A number of mobile teams are conducting on-the-spot supervision. Action is being taken against any and all violations."
All shops and establishments in Dhaka, excluding pharmacies, restaurants and grocery shops, have been shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to sources, the pressure on TCB sales points has increased because of the shutdown.
The TCB is selling sugar at Tk50 per kg, soybean oil Tk80 per litre, lentil Tk50 per kg and onion Tk35 per kg at 60 sales points from its trucks throughout the capital.