History's greatest teaching is that no one learns from it. The authorities have botched up things on many fronts once again. If the inadequacy, chaos, confusion and helplessness are most glaring in the area of medical facilities for treatment of Covid-19, the enforcement of lockdown does not lag far behind. Last year's teaching from unpreparedness to deal with such a monumental health crisis has gone begging.
Accepted that people's movement has been restricted but not even to the last year's extent. Around this time last year, the roads were almost deserted but not this time. The first week's lax lockdown was simply a mockery of the restrictive measure. The stricter lockdown of the second week has failed to match the 'stay home' compulsion during the general holiday. It has been an astounding fracas with the movement pass issued by the police.
Casual, selective and at times motivated enforcement of restrictions have their undesirable effects on market, kitchen market in particular, and consequently on the lives of the lower income group. There is a need for taking into account the various disruptions to be caused by a complete lockdown. Some emergency measures have to be put in place in order to maintain the supply line of essentials. This is even truer in time of the holy month when the majority of the people observe siam or fasting.
Vegetables have become dearer and if the lockdown is prolonged other essentials will also follow suit. The reason is nothing but unpreparedness for the emergency situation. What happened last year could amply provide a corrective lesson. Unfortunately, reports have it that those assigned to maintain order of people and vehicles' movement are taking undue advantage of the situation. If a vegetable-laden truck has to bribe the guards at several check posts for its passage, it is only natural that the items would be pricier than those ought to have been. A report carried in an English contemporary gathers from one of the vegetable suppliers to Shyambazar that he had to part with extortion money at as many as five check posts.
Indeed, without sincere and full cooperation of on-duty law enforcement members deployed at the field level, a lockdown cannot be successfully enforced. At the same time, their sincerity and honesty count most in running business. Transports of essentials such as vegetables are free to move but still they are intimidated and even threatened with cases against drivers and vendors for carrying contrabands. In a situation like this, the poor transport operators and vegetable vendors have to give in to the illegal demands.
At a time of extreme crisis, disruption of supply line is not only undesirable but even ruinous to the economy. Perishable items including egg and milk can be a cause for concern for both farmers and consumers. Last time, eggs rot, milk had to be thrown away because of a lack of collection and transportation. Even the three-day old chicks perished in their thousands because there was none to take delivery of those for poultry farms. All these could be avoided if some initiatives were taken by the authorities concerned. Let this not happen once again.
The fact is that there is a demand for such items from the consumers' end but because of supply crunch, those do not reach the market where the demand is. So the consumers have to pay a higher price because of a crisis at their end. If the supply chain can be maintained ---and there is no reason why this cannot be done ---both growers/producers and consumers benefit. In the process economy does not suffer very much, even though there may be a slump in consumption for understandable reasons. In fact, in the absence of heavy traffic on roads, transportation should be faster and smoother. The points where supply line is hampered or otherwise undermined should be looked into and taken care of in order to sustain life and economy.