How the hub of country’s trade stayed open through the pandemic

The First Virtual Workshop on Workplace Health Safety for Business Continuity during COVID-19 for Chattogram Customs House was held on Sunday.

The event was organized by Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) and Bangladesh Investment Climate Fund II, which is implemented by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, and funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

A series of customized guidelines were prepared since March, which were finalized in June and except for a few recent updates, most of the suggestions are still valid.

Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEO, BUILD delivered the welcome remarks of the workshop.

She said that the Customs House Chattogram plays a crucial role in the country’s international trade.

Nusrat Nahid, Private Sector Specialist at IFC, provided an overview of the initiative and shared Audio-Visuals on Health Safety Guidelines.

Dr. Mohammad Abul Hasnat gave a presentation on Health Safety Guidelines.

In the presentation, he underscored that the first step for COVID-19 is creating a response team vested with appropriate authority, to ensure observance of safety guidelines and to isolate anyone with COVID-19 symptoms.

M. Fakhrul Alam, Commissioner of Custom House, Chattogram (CHC) thanked the organizers and said that the CHC has taken the relevant steps, including introducing a public address system, operating a quick response team to monitor the maintenance of the safety measures in the customs house, and so forth. As import and export had declined,roster duty was introduced using 30-35% of officials at a time to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Mahbubul Alam, President, Chittagong Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCCI) said that the contribution of Chattogram Customs House knows no bounds in the country’s economy.

The goal of customs is not revenue collection as such but to facilitate trade in the greater interest of the country.

Md. Zafar Alam, Joint Secretary, Member, Chittagong Port Authority said that it is important to incorporate the Chattogram Port Authority as well, since Customs House and Port Authority are complementary bodies.

Michchu Saha, 3rd Vice President, C&F Association mentioned that the measures taken were strictly observed up to June. But in recent months a certain slackness can be observed, including the wearing of masks and so on. CHC is overcrowded. The long room is especially crowded, and it needs to ensure smooth and faster service delivery so that risk can be minimized.

Amirul Islam Chaowdhury Mizan, Sr. Vice President, Bangladesh Freight Forwarder Association (BAFFA) thanked the authorities for prompt measures to mitigate COVID-19 risks.

Source: United News of Bangladesh