More than a hundred residents took to the streets on Saturday afternoon
In the face of violent protests by local residents yesterday, Akij Group has postponed its proposed emergency hospital project in Tejgaon industrial area in Dhaka for the treatment of coronavirus-infected patients.
Scores of local people took to the streets, a day after the leading business conglomerate announced a plan to construct a specialized emergency hospital amid growing concerns over the lack of logistics to detect and treat coronavirus patients in Bangladesh.
More than a hundred residents, defying the government ban on mass gatherings in light of the coronavirus outbreak, were out on the streets in protest after a message about the proposed hospital went viral on Facebook and other social media networks on Saturday afternoon.
It was claimed that local councilor Md Shafiullah Shafi was behind the violent protest and opposition to the hospital project.
The protesters vandalized the hospital project site and attacked construction workers during the hour-long demonstration that started at around 1pm, police said. Three people, including security men and construction workers, were injured.
Refuting local residents’ claim of his being behind the protests, Councilor Md Shafiullah said that he had rushed to the spot to bring the situation under control.
"A sense of fear and apprehension was apparent among the locals when they came to learn that Akij group had started to build a hospital for coronavirus patients."
"Locals were under the impression that coronavirus might infect them due to the proximity of the proposed hospital project. I was only trying to contain the situation," Md Shafiullah added.
Tejgaon industrial police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Ali Hossain confirmed the incident, saying that local people opposed to the hospital project had attacked workers, which eventually led to an announcement of the postponement of the project.
Meanwhile, Akij Group Managing Director Bashir Uddin said: “We’ve decided to postpone our project following an attack on our employees engaged in building the hospital.”
He said the proposed emergency hospital had been planned on the company's empty plot next to the factory of motorcycle makers TVS in Tejgaon.
Bashir said the Akij Group had started the work on the project just a few days back and was expecting to complete it within a week as work was progressing fast.
But, he said, at one stage of the work, some local people started opposing the move saying that they would not allow any such hospital in the area, sensing that it would spread the deadly virus in the locality.
"Sadly, the workers of Akij Group came under attack. Such attacks deprive people of urgently needed care, endanger health care providers, and undermine private sector initiatives," said the top business executive.
The idea of setting up such a hospital project came following a model field hospital built by the Chinese government in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel Coronavirus.
The Huoshenshan temporary field hospital in Wuhan was built in a matter of 10 days on an emergency basis to treat Coronavirus patients when their number began to rise rapidly in China.