Nazmul Hossain, a resident of Green Road area in Dhaka, visited Kathalbagan Kachabazar on Sunday to buy some vegetables.
To his horror, Nazmul found the market – located just metres away from the Kalabagan Police Station – crowded with more than three hundred people. None of them were maintaining social distancing measures.
Moreover, many shopkeepers and sellers did not set up shops on the road outside the market, flouting the Dhaka Metropolitan Police's (DMP) instructions in this regard.
The DMP on April 22 instructed kitchen market sellers to set up shops on roads with at least 10 feet distance between each store, to curb the Covid-19 pandemic by ensuring social distancing among shoppers.
Talking to The Business Standard, Nazmul said, "I am surprised to see that no one is bothering about the police's instruction to set up shops on the road with 10 feet distance in between."
Poritosh Chandra, officer-in-charge of Kalabagan police station, said, "We have shifted the fish market to the Green Road. But the kitchen and vegetable market could not be transferred there for a lack of sufficient space," he added.
Shoppers and sellers in Khilgaon, Bashabo and Malibagh kitchen markets are also seen not maintaining any social distancing measures.
"To ensure safety and proper social distancing, police have to be stricter," said Mahmud, a resident of Malibagh area.
Unlike those markets, Hatirpool Kachabazar is the best instance of people following social distancing measures. Every shop has been set up 10 feet away from others in a row on the road, while most of the shoppers and sellers are wearing masks and gloves.
Md Abdul Mazed, a shopper, said every market should follow the example of Hatirpool.
Muhammad Abdul Quader, a resident of Mirpur 6, said the markets of his area were not maintaining social distancing instructions from the DMP. The same issue was prevalent in Badda and Rampura kitchen markets too.
Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner (media) of the DMP, said, "Due to the lack of sufficient manpower, we cannot monitor all the markets, including the lane shops. But we are making a serious effort, and we achieved success in shifting the city corporations' markets."
Meanwhile, Railway General Hospital's Divisional Medical Officer Dr Tuhin Fahim said, "Shifting the kitchen markets is a praiseworthy initiative, as they are the most crowded places in the city and there is a high risk of coronavirus transmission from those areas.
"People should obey the instructions of law enforcers to lower the risk of virus transmission."
Dr Habibullah Ruskin, an epidemiologist, said, "People are going to the kitchen markets to buy essential commodities and many of them, who are not aware enough, go each day without maintaining any social distancing measures.
"So setting up shops with specific distancing measures is a befitting decision. But the markets are not the only place to monitor. Authorities have to look into other issues as well."
There are the 45 kitchen markets in Dhaka. Among the 16 markets of the Dhaka North City Corporation, 15 have already been shifted on roads.
But The Business Standard could not find any accurate information on the shifting of Dhaka South City Corporation's 29 markets.