SOP rules remain unobserved outside Bangladeshi High Commission in Ampang

Traders and those residing in Pekan Ampang are fed up with the lack of standard operating procedures (SOPs) observed by those visiting the Bangladesh High Commission Passport Service Centre.

They claim their repeated pleas have fallen on deaf ears as the number of Covid-19 cases in the country continues to spike in recent weeks.

Twentytwo13 visited the area on Monday and earlier this morning (around 8.30am), only to be greeted with a line of people about 100m long. While most of the Bangladeshi nationals wore face masks and some had gloves on, there was no physical distancing observed. Some grouped together while waiting for their turn.

Over 150 people line up under the sun this morning as there is no visible holding area for them to wait. Image by Twentytwo13

This situation is not new.

Twentytwo13 had, on July 23, 2020, highlighted the matter as similar scenes were observed outside the embassy. Then Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) president Datuk Abd Hamid Hussain, who was alerted to the matter by Twentytwo13, sprang into action and requested police assistance.

The following day, enforcers turned up but there was hardly a crowd outside the embassy.

Ten months later, the situation is back to square one.

Pang Weng Jun, who runs a food shop in the area, said he is at wits’ end on what to do.

“I have lodged complaints with MPAJ, the police, Foreign Affairs Ministry, Housing and Local Government Ministry and the Selangor state government over a year ago, but the situation remains.”

For the record, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin is also Ampang MP.

“It’s frustrating. I’m fed up and I don’t know who else to talk to. I don’t want to deal with any politician and I may write to Istana Negara,” said the 30-year-old.

Pang said more than half of his customers have stopped visiting his shop over the past year.

“People are afraid to come as they see a large group of people not adhering to Covid-19 standard operating procedures.

“I understand this place is just a passport service centre, but they should work on an appointments basis. Maybe they can set a limit of 100 people a day and not hundreds like what it is now,” he added.

Another trader, who lives nearby, said the situation was scary as a possible Covid-19 cluster could emerge.

“The number of Covid-19 cases keep going up. We can’t allow this to happen … not here and not anywhere else,” said the trader, who only wanted to be known as Tan.

Ampang resident Malek Alias, who drives past the high commission daily, said the area is congested with vehicles, including taxis waiting by the roadside.

“Where are the enforcers? How can this happen? Why isn’t anyone being compounded?” he asked.

“I pity those who have to wait in the line under the hot sun. The high commission should come up with a proper system. They can’t allow this to happen. It’s wrong.”

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