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https://www.tbsnews.net/features/panorama/meet-new-occupants-mohakhalis-big-blue-tinned-depot-paperfly-285037#.YQ9eYWafpeI.facebook

Adiba Hayat

08 August, 2021, 10:30 am

Last modified: 08 August, 2021, 01:22 pm

Meet the new occupants of Mohakhali’s big, blue tinned depot: Paperfly

Once a symbol of a stalwart  in manufacturing, the industrial facility in Mohakhali has ditched tradionality to cater to a completely new form of business and commerce 

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Paperfly’s new warehousing facility is equipped to process all logistical procedures at once - saving time and money for both customers and businesses. Photo: Courtesy

A massive blue tin structure along the Mohakhali DOHS gate, with the words 'Transcom' inscribed in bold white letters (until recently), is one of the most iconic commercial structures in Dhaka.  

Everytime you cross the Mohakhali flyover, it's the first thing you notice - a beacon in blue amidst the mundane and drab colours emanating from surrounding concrete structures.

For the newest occupants of that facility - Paperfly Pvt Ltd - leasing the iconic structure from the  Sena-Kalyan Sangstha Bangladesh has more to do with just optics. 

With over 70,000 sq ft of floor area, a processing capacity of 75,000 to 100k orders per day and 600k monthly delivery capacity, Paperfly has big plans for the space, and ever bigger plans for its clients. 

"We plan to consolidate the entire logistics process. By consolidating I mean that Paperfly wants to become the one-stop solution for any type of e-commerce and brick and mortar businesses," says Rahath Ahmed, the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Paperfly. 

"We want our new warehouse to act as the hub for products to be shuttled, fulfilled, sorted and distributed to delivery vehicles heading toward various routes across Bangladesh." Paperfly moved to the new location in July this year.

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Rahath Ahmed

A dedicated logistics service company, Paperfly has been operating in Bangladesh since 2016 with over 1,200  employees employed at various levels, and describes itself as the 'largest doorstep delivery network' in the country. It has 144 delivery points nationwide and covers 4,554 unions.

This January, Indian logistics giant Ecom Express Ltd invested Tk100 crore in the company. Some of Paperfly's clients include Daraz Bangladesh, Evaly, Dhamaka, UShop, Aarong, Sheba.xyz, Transcom, Foodpanda and Marico Bangladesh. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic when visiting malls and superstores physically turned into a health hazard, the e-commerce platform grew further in strength.

Paperfly's new warehousing facility is equipped to process all logistical procedures at once - saving time and money for both customers and businesses, funneling the saved amount back into the system. 

Many people have a misconception that logistics only means delivering a product; but that is simply the tip of the iceberg. It is a vertical service where warehousing is a critical factor. The role of logistics is put into motion from product handling to delivering it to its destination. 

In its new and improved warehouse, Paperfly will now be capable of processing heavy products such as TV, fridge, AC, furniture, etc with state-of-the-art heavy product processing machinery. 

In addition, the warehouse also has systems such as end-to-end inventory management, international standard security, efficient product handling and more, resulting in a streamlined warehousing facility for any sort of product.

"What this facility will do for our clients is they will be able to reach their customers directly without the need to set up retail outlets, storage facilities and the like, and incur a lot of costs in the process," says Rahath. 

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Photo: NOOR-A-ALAM

He likened the advantage to what Chinese technology conglomerate Xiaomi did when it first entered the market. They reached customers directly by accepting only online orders and foregoing the additional costs of setting up a retail network. 
 
Rahath's decision to have a warehousing hub in this particular location comes down to convenience. 

"Mohakhali, being one of the most well-connected places in Dhaka, has more efficient transportation routes and overall better connectivity for the products to reach delivery points," he said.

Rahath emphasised the importance of updating warehousing facilities and making them compatible with technology. 

"Warehousing facility was always there, but so far has only been used in a very traditional way. There has never been any update or consolidation. And we plan to consolidate it - meaning that we want to have a one-stop warehousing hub to satisfy both online and offline clients at different delivery points," said Rahath.  

It is not just about delivering a product to the customer; it is also about delivering it as fast as possible, says Rahath. 

Although a logistics industry has existed in the country for the last three or four decades, there has been no significant infrastructural development during this timeframe. It has been operating under the decades-old manual process. 

"Yet, the industry makes up eight to 10 percent of the country's total GDP," says Rahath.

"This industry lacks investment. There's no tech involved either. If I want to know the transaction history of the products in my warehouse, I must implement technology alongside heavy financial investment".

Globally, Bangladesh has been lagging behind in this industry, even compared to other neighbouring nations. India, for instance, is one of the biggest players.

"India's logistics operations are very consolidated and standardised. There are many one-stop warehouses in India that make this process very streamlined," said Rahath.

"There's no infrastructure to support B2B warehousing needs in Bangladesh. Proper logistics infrastructure will also create employment opportunities at a mass level. There's huge potential, but the infrastructure is defragmented." 

According to Rahath, both individuals and the government will be benefitted by updating the logistics industry. 

"The government cannot earn due taxes as this industry is scattered. Within the industry, there are 10/20/30 more companies like us who can be easily monitored by the government  if warehousing grows," he continued.

"The government is also concerned about logistics infrastructure and streamlining these services. The country needs to have more logistics companies that will transport the goods produced and imported through the EPZs and sea ports of the country." 

Going forward, Rahath aims to reduce Paperfly's home delivery time from 48 hours to 24, but recognises that this will require proper capacity and infrastructure. Paperfly also has ambitions to create a stronger delivery system to deliver products all over Bangladesh. However, it is of paramount importance that Paperfly harnesses the full power of technology into its corporate responsibilities. 

"Most importantly, we want technological integration to ensure commercial transparency and efficiency for both customers and businesses," said Rahath.

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উত্তরা-মতিঝিল

আগারগাঁও পর্যন্ত মেট্রোরেলের ৮৮ শতাংশ কাজ শেষ

নিজস্ব প্রতিবেদক

আগস্ট ০৯, ২০২১

নির্মাণকাজ শুরু হয়েছিল ২০১৭ সালের আগস্টে। চার বছর পেরিয়ে এখন শেষ পর্যায়ে দেশের প্রথম মেট্রোরেল লাইনের উত্তরা-আগারগাঁও অংশের কাজ। এখন পর্যন্ত পূর্তকাজের অগ্রগতি ৮৮ দশমিক ১৮ শতাংশ। মেট্রো লাইনটির এ অংশে আগামী বছরের ডিসেম্বর নাগাদ ট্রেন চালুর পরিকল্পনা করছে কর্তৃপক্ষ।

অন্যদিকে আগারগাঁও থেকে কারওয়ান বাজার হয়ে মতিঝিল পর্যন্ত দ্বিতীয় অংশের পূর্তকাজ সম্পন্ন হয়েছে ৬৬ দশমিক ৭৪ শতাংশ। ২০২৩ সাল নাগাদ পুরো মেট্রো লাইনটি চালুর লক্ষ্য সরকারের।

মেট্রোরেলের উত্তরা-আগারগাঁও অংশ আগে চালু হবে, নাকি পুরো লাইনটিই একসঙ্গে চালু হবে তা নিয়ে একাধিকবার সিদ্ধান্ত বদলেছে মেট্রোরেল নির্মাণ ও পরিচালনার দায়িত্বে থাকা ঢাকা ম্যাস ট্রানজিট কোম্পানি লিমিটেড (ডিএমটিসিএল)। সংস্থাটির সর্বশেষ সিদ্ধান্ত অনুযায়ী, আগামী বছরের ডিসেম্বরে ট্রেন চলবে উত্তরা-আগারগাঁও অংশের মধ্যে। এরই মধ্যে জাপান থেকে দুই সেট মেট্রো ট্রেন ঢাকায় এসে পৌঁছেছে। পরীক্ষামূলক চলাচলের অংশ হিসেবে চলতি মাসেই এসব ট্রেন ভায়াডাক্টের (উড়ালপথ) ওপর চলার কথা রয়েছে।

মেট্রোরেল লাইনে উত্তরা-আগারগাঁও অংশের দূরত্ব ১১ দশমিক ৭৩ কিলোমিটার। ডিপো থেকে বের হয়ে প্রথম স্টেশন উত্তরা নর্থ। সেখান থেকে উত্তরা সেন্টার, উত্তরা সাউথ, পল্লবী, মিরপুর ১১, মিরপুর ১০, কাজীপাড়া, শেওড়াপাড়া স্টেশন পার হয়ে ট্রেন আসবে আগারগাঁও স্টেশনে। নয়টি স্টেশনের মধ্যে চারটির প্লাটফর্ম ও স্টিলের কাঠামোর ছাদ নির্মাণ শেষ হয়েছে। বাকি পাঁচটির কাজ চলছে। সবক’টি স্টেশনে যান্ত্রিক, বৈদ্যুতিক কাজসহ ‘অ্যান্টি-এক্সিট স্ট্রাকচার নির্মাণও শুরু হয়েছে। ডিএমটিসিএলের জুলাইয়ের অগ্রগতির তথ্য বলছে, উত্তরা থেকে আগারগাঁও পর্যন্ত ১১ দশমিক ৭৩ কিলোমিটার ভায়াডাক্ট ও নয়টি স্টেশন নির্মাণকাজের সার্বিক অগ্রগতি ৮২ দশমিক ৮ শতাংশ। আর উত্তরা থেকে মতিঝিল পর্যন্ত পুরো মেট্রোরেল লাইনটির সার্বিক অগ্রগতি ৬৮ দশমিক ৪৯ শতাংশ বলে উল্লেখ করা হয়েছে জুলাইয়ের অগ্রগতি প্রতিবেদনে।

দ্বিতীয় পর্যায়ে আগারগাঁও থেকে মতিঝিল পর্যন্ত মেট্রোরেল লাইনটির কাজ চলছে দুটি প্যাকেজে। ৫ নম্বর প্যাকেজে নির্মাণ করা হচ্ছে কারওয়ান বাজার পর্যন্ত ৩ দশমিক ১৯ কিলোমিটার ভায়াডাক্ট ও তিনটি স্টেশন। এ অংশে বর্তমানে বিজয় সরণি, ফার্মগেট ও কারওয়ান বাজার স্টেশনের কাজ চলছে। মোট ১ হাজার ৪৮টি প্রিকাস্ট সেগমেন্টের মধ্যে ৮৩৯টি সেগমেন্ট নির্মাণ করা হয়েছে। একইভাবে ৩ হাজার ২৩৪টি প্যারাপেট ওয়ালের মধ্যে ১ হাজার ৬৩৯টির কাজ শেষ হয়েছে। এরই মধ্যে দৃশ্যমান হয়েছে দুই কিলোমিটারের বেশি উড়ালপথ। প্যাকেজটির সার্বিক বাস্তব অগ্রগতি ৭১ দশমিক ১৪ শতাংশ।

অন্যদিকে কারওয়ান বাজার থেকে মতিঝিল পর্যন্ত ৪ দশমিক ৯২ কিলোমিটার ভায়াডাক্ট ও চারটি স্টেশন নির্মাণ করা হচ্ছে ৬ নম্বর প্যাকেজে। এ অংশে ২৯৮টি পাইল ক্যাপ হবে, যার মধ্যে ২৭০টি সম্পন্ন হয়েছে। ১ হাজার ৭৬৪টি প্রিকাস্ট সেগমেন্টের মধ্যে ১ হাজার ৭০৭টির কাস্টিং শেষ হয়েছে। ৪ হাজার ৯৪৬টি প্যারাপেট ওয়ালের মধ্যে ৩ হাজার ১৯৩টি সম্পন্ন হয়েছে। বর্তমানে শাহবাগ, ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়, বাংলাদেশ সচিবালয় ও মতিঝিল মেট্রোরেল স্টেশনের নির্মাণকাজ চলমান আছে।

মোট ২৪ সেট ট্রেন চলবে উত্তরা-মতিঝিল মেট্রোতে। ট্রেনগুলো নির্মাণ করছে জাপানি রোলিংস্টক নির্মাতা প্রতিষ্ঠান কাওয়াসাকি-মিত্সুবিশি। এর মধ্যে দুটি ট্রেন এরই মধ্যে ঢাকায় এসে পৌঁছেছে। ডিএমটিসিএলের জুলাইয়ের অগ্রগতি প্রতিবেদনে বলা হয়েছে, তৃতীয় ও চতুর্থ মেট্রো ট্রেন সেট গত ২০ জুলাই জাপানের কোবে বন্দর থেকে মোংলা সমুদ্রবন্দরে এসেছে। চলতি মাসের তৃতীয় সপ্তাহ নাগাদ ট্রেন দুটি ঢাকায় এসে পৌঁছানোর আশা করছেন ডিএমটিসিএলের কর্মকর্তারা।

প্রসঙ্গত, উত্তরা-মতিঝিল মেট্রো লাইনটি নির্মাণে খরচ হচ্ছে ২১ হাজার ৯৮৫ কোটি টাকা। এর মধ্যে ১৬ হাজার ৫৯৫ কোটি টাকা জাপান ইন্টারন্যাশনাল কো-অপারেশন এজেন্সি (জাইকা) ও ৫ হাজার ৩৯০ কোটি টাকা দিচ্ছে বাংলাদেশ সরকার। উত্তরা-আগারগাঁও অংশটি নির্মাণ করছে ইতাল-থাই ডেভেলপমেন্ট কোম্পানি। অন্যদিকে আগারগাঁও থেকে কারওয়ান বাজার অংশ জাপানের টেক্কেন করপোরেশনের সঙ্গে যৌথভাবে বাস্তবায়ন করছে বাংলাদেশের আব্দুল মোনেম লিমিটেড। আর কারওয়ান বাজার-মতিঝিল অংশ নির্মাণ করছে জাপানি সুুমিতোমো মিতসুই কনস্ট্রাকশন ও ইতাল-থাইয়ের জয়েন্ট ভেঞ্চার।

উত্তরা-মতিঝিল মেট্রোরেলের পাশাপাশি ঢাকায় আরো পাঁচটি মেট্রোরেল গড়ে তুলবে সরকার, যেগুলোর কোনোটি হবে উড়ালপথে, কোনোটি পাতালপথে। কোনো কোনোটি আবার উড়াল-পাতাল সমন্বয় করে নির্মাণ করা হবে। সময়াবদ্ধ কর্মপরিকল্পনার মাধ্যমে ২০৩০ সালের মধ্যেই সব মেট্রোরেল বাস্তবায়ন করতে চায় সরকার।

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ঢাকা-চট্টগ্রাম মহাসড়কে নির্মিত হবে আন্ডারপাস-ইউলুপ

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প্রকাশিত: ১০ আগস্ট ২০২১ 

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ঢাকা-চট্টগ্রাম মহাসড়ক নিরাপদ ও যানজটমুক্ত করতে ফের ৫৬৮ কোটির টাকার প্রকল্প হাতে নেওয়া হচ্ছে। প্রকল্পের আওতায় নতুন করে এ জাতীয় মহাসড়কে আন্ডারপাস (পাতালপথ)-ইউলুপ নির্মাণ করা হবে।

দুর্ঘটনার ঝুঁকি কমানোসহ টেকসই, নিরাপদ ও ব্যয় সাশ্রয় যোগাযোগ ব্যবস্থার লক্ষ্যে নতুন করে এ উদ্যোগ।ৎ

জানা গেছে, এ মহাসড়কের ৯৩তম কিলোমিটারে কুমিল্লার পদুয়ার বাজারে তিন রাস্তার মোড়ে আন্ডারপাসসহ ইউলুপ এবং কুমিল্লা সদর দক্ষিণ উপজেলা ও কুমিল্লা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের প্রবেশ পথে আন্ডারপাস নির্মাণ করা হবে।

‘ঢাকা-চট্টগ্রাম জাতীয় মহাসড়কে ৬টি আন্ডারপাস এবং পদুয়ার বাজার ইন্টারসেকশনে ইউলুপ নির্মাণ’ নামের এ প্রকল্পের মোট ব্যয় ধরা হয়েছে ৫৬৮ কোটি ৯৩ লাখ টাকা। চলতি সময় থেকে ২০২৪ সালের জুন মেয়াদে প্রকল্পটি বাস্তবায়ন করবে সড়ক ও জনপথ (সওজ) অধিদপ্তর।

প্রকল্পটি বুধবার (২৮ জুলাই) শেরে বাংলানগরের এনইসি সম্মেললন কক্ষে অনুষ্ঠেয় জাতীয় অর্থনৈতিক পরিষদের নির্বাহী কমিটির (একনেক) সভায় উপস্থাপনের জন্য প্রস্তুত করে রেখেছে পরিকল্পনা কমিশনের ভৌত অবকাঠামো বিভাগ।

পরিকল্পনা কমিশনের পরিকল্পনা কমিশনের ভৌত অবকাঠামো বিভাগের সদস্য (সচিব) মো. মামুন আল-রশীদ বাংলানিউজকে বলেন, প্রস্তাবিত প্রকল্পের আওতায় ঢাকা-চট্টগ্রাম জাতীয় মহাসড়ক (এন-১) ও কুমিল্লা-চাঁদপুর আঞ্চলিক মহাসড়কের পদুয়ার বাজার ইন্টারসেকশনে ইউলুপ ও একটি আন্ডারপাস, কুমিল্লা সদর দক্ষিণ উপজেলা গেইট এবং কুমিল্লা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের বেলতলী গেইট সংলগ্ন স্থানে দু’টি আন্ডারপাস নির্মাণ করা হবে। প্রকল্পটি বাস্তবায়নের ফলে ঢাকা-চট্টগ্রাম মহাসড়ক ঝুঁকিমুক্ত হবে।

পাশাপাশি সড়কে জটলা কমবে। ঢাকা-চট্টগ্রামের এ সংযোগ সড়ক ভবিষ্যতে ভারতের উত্তর-পূর্বাঞ্চলীয় রাজ্যের সঙ্গে যোগাযোগে ব্যবহৃত হবে। আর সে কারণে এর বর্তমান এবং ভবিষ্যতের ট্রাফিক চাহিদা পূরণের জন্য পর্যাপ্ত ক্ষমতা এবং গতিশীলতা দরকার। ’

প্রকল্পের আওতায় ২ হাজার ১৪২ মিটারের ইউলুপ নির্মাণ অ্যাপ্রোচ সড়কসহ। ১৭১ মিটারের তিনটি আন্ডারপাস নির্মাণসহ ভূমি অধিগ্রহণ, একটি ডাবল কেবিন পিকআপ, প্রকল্পের আওতায় ল্যান্ডস্কেপ, ইউটিলিটি সিটিং এবং বৃক্ষরোপণসহ অন্যান্য কাজ সম্পন্ন করা হবে।

প্রকল্পটির মূল উদ্দেশ্য হলো ঢাকা-চট্টগ্রাম জাতীয় মহাসড়কে দুর্ঘটনার ঝুঁকি হ্রাস করে টেকসই, নিরাপদ ও ব্যয় সাশ্রয়ী যোগাযোগ ব্যবস্থা নিশ্চিত করা।

ঢাকা-চট্টগ্রাম জাতীয় মহাসড়ক (এন-১) এবং কুমিল্লা-চাঁদপুর আঞ্চলিক মহাসড়ক (আর-১৪০) দু’টি পদুয়ার বাজারে এসে মিলিত হয়ে চার রাস্তার মোড় তৈরি করেছে। এ মোড়ে ঢাকা-চাঁদপুর, চট্টগ্রাম-কুমিল্লা, কুমিল্লা-চাঁদপুর এবং চাঁদপুর-চট্টগ্রামগামী বিপুল সংখ্যক যানবাহনকে কম-বেশি ৫০০ মিটারের মধ্যে ইউটার্ন করতে হয়। ফলে এ স্থলে অধিকাংশ সময়ে তীব্র যানজট সৃষ্টি হয়ে নিরবচ্ছিন্ন যোগাযোগ মারাত্মকভাবে বিঘ্নিত করে এবং ভয়াবহ দুর্ঘটনা ঘটে থাকে। তাছাড়া কুমিল্লা সদর দক্ষিণ উপজেলা গেইট এবং কুমিল্লা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের বেলতলী গেইট স্থলেও তীব্র যানজট দূর করাসহ সড়ক নিরাপত্তা নিশ্চিত অপরিহার্য হয়ে পড়েছে। এসব কারণ বিবেচনা করেই প্রকল্পটি নেওয়া হচ্ছে।

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Prime rail corridor to uptake higher speed

 MUNIMA SULTANA | Published:  August 10, 2021 09:18:24 | Updated:  August 10, 2021 10:38:30

Bangladesh's prime railway corridor on Dhaka-Chattogram route linking up to Cox's Bazar maritime frontier is being upgraded for enabling train movement at desired speeds and with increased traffic.

"Under a feasibility-study project, Bangladesh Railway (BR) has already identified the missing links needed to be integrated with the existing lines," said one official familiar with the scheme.

Some works of upgrading have been done on the 325-kilometre corridor along the country's commercial lifeline, which also connects outer world for routing trade.

Sources say "for a lack of consistency in such development works in- between the tracks, the BR has been unable to utilise the main corridor to its full capacity for passengers and freights by maintaining train-speed level of 80 kilometres per hour".

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BR officials said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had already assured of funding some parts of the corridor upgrade and included three projects into its pipelines to invest in next three years, starting next fiscal year (FY).

According to the study -- titled Dhaka-Chattogram-Cox's Bazar rail projects preparatory facility -- 123 kms from Laksam to Chinkiastana, 95 kms from Tongi to Akhaura and 50 kms from Chattogram to Dohazari need to be developed into dual-gauge double-line route to match with the works done in other parts of the corridor.

The BR has developed two separate dual-gauge double lines and is now constructing 3rd and 4th line from Dhaka to Tongi.

Also under construction is dual-gauge double line from Tongi to Joydevpur as well as from Akhaura to Laksam.

But the route has missing links from Tongi to Akhaura, Laksam to Chinkiastana and Chattogram to Dohazari.

Dual-gauge double line means development of two rail tracks having both metre-and broad-gauge lines.

It is also implementing signalling-system-upgrading works targeting to withdraw stoppages to make trains pass on other sections.

The officials said an ADB mission visited the country in February and assured of funding 95km Tongi-Akhaura line in the current fiscal year, 50km Chattogam-Dohazari track excluding Kalurhat bridge in 2022 and 123km Laksam-Chinkiastaana line in the current year.

The cost estimated for the Tongi-Akharua section is Tk 140.58 billion, Laksam-Chinkiastana Tk 156.19 billion and Chattogram-Dohazari Tk 130 billion

Sources said Tk 156.19-billion cost has been estimated for the Chattogram-Dohazari line development including construction of the Kalurhat bridge with both rail and road facilities. But the replacement of the British-era-old rail-cum-road bridge with the new one has long been dealt with the financial support from Korea.

The BR included the feasibility study of the Kalurhat bridge into the preparatory-project-facility project recently to conduct the study for a second time as six years have already elapsed since the first FS was done.

The BR has already started construction of the rail tracks from Dohazari to Cox's Bazar with dual-gauge provision but single-line one but its line from Chattogram to Dohazari remains metre-gauge single- track one.

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Selection of lesser-known consultants partly blamed for problems in project execution

 MUNIMA SULTANA | Published:  August 11, 2021 08:36:29 | Updated:  August 11, 2021 16:45:30

Lesser-known consultancy firms from abroad grab most jobs of conducting feasibility studies on infrastructure-projects, limiting scope for top-ranking local or global bidders.

This practice, however, gives rise to problems during execution of many development projects, sources concerned said.

According to project-insiders, consultants, engineers and economists familiar with such matters, local firms can hardly compete in the bidding for feasibility study for withdrawal of incentives like over 20-percent cut rate in the contract price of any international bidding.

Major international consultancies from European and developed countries also feel less interest in such public-works schemes for the provision of lowest bidder in the public procurement rule.

Tender documents are often prepared in a way to favour specific firms, they alleged.

Chinese, Indian, Korean and Australian firms are currently dominating the local infrastructure projects.

British, European and American firms used to get work order in Bangladesh in the past, but they are conspicuous by their absence except for the Padma bridge project.

Limited Japanese firms get works in the Japanese government-funded projects, thanks to creating scope for them in the bidding documents.

According to Roads and Highways Department, five to seven local firms are capable of working in mega- projects but they cannot vie with international firms without partnership.

Seeking anonymity, a consultant for a mega-project says top global consultancy firms work with the consultants from those countries paying less remuneration.

"Experience is always expensive which cannot be found in the case of low-paid consultants," he added.

Project-insiders and consultants observe that some agencies that follow guidelines of the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank are sceptical about selecting lowest bidders for petty interest.

They also highlighted lack of strong monitoring and supervision of a firm's work at the time of preparation stage to ensure quality feasibility study.

The country's fast-track Padma bridge project faced first blow at the beginning of its physical work for failure in test-piling, which, experts later found, was due to fault in the feasibility study.

It is found that soil test results of 14 piers located in the middle of the 6.15-kilometre bridge were quite different from that of the study.

This study was done by the top-ranking New Zealand-based firm Maunsell-AECOM.

Same goes also for the Indian line-of-credit-funded Khulna-Mongla rail-link project.

The Bangladesh Railway is still facing problems with the implementation of the project due to a faulty feasibility study, detailed design and selection of Indian contractors as per the LoC condition, according to the sources.

Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, says many projects are taken under political pressure and to serve vested quarters, hinting at the preparation of bidding documents in favour of specific firms.

Dr Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute, blames the absence of accountability for creating scope for the agencies concerned in wrongdoing.

However, sitting and retired engineers differ on this point and say accuracy in a feasibility study is possible only when gap between the time of the study and physical work can be reduced.

Time lag changes many scenarios, they observed.

Padma bridge project director M Shafiqul Islam said project cost and time both escalate in most projects for this gap.

He cited as examples the projects where more than four years had been lost before the start of physical work.

Strict supervision at the time of feasibility studies and physical work can ensure getting level of quality work from any kind of firms, he added.

Ibne Hasan Alam, former RHD chief engineer, also emphasised a change of culture of conducting feasibility study in a year or two. The more time is given during the preparatory stage, he says, the more accuracy and speed can be ensured in implementation stage.

Mr Alam cites example that Japan usually takes 10-12 years at preparation stage for which it is able to complete big projects even in two to three years.

Of the mega-or priority projects, Dhaka-Chattogram four-lane project works took 12 years to complete 193-km highway development while 87-km Dhaka-Mymensingh four-lane project seven years.

Nine years have already gone in widening the 70-km Joydevpur-Tangail-Elenga highway.

The Elenga-Hatikamrul-Rangpur highway project took four years to start physical work while Dhaka-Sylhet-Tamabil highway four-lane work has yet to start despite a study and detailed design work done in 2015.

A consultant for a mega-project also blames preparation of a development-project proposal much earlier than the completion of a feasibility study and detailed design work for complicating project implementation.

Huge new components were added up to the Joydevpur-Tangail-Elenga and Elenga-Hatikamrul-Rangpur highway and Dhaka-Sylhet highway projects despite having feasibility studies and detailed design done earlier.

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Shahriaz Ahmmed

12 August, 2021, 10:10 am

Last modified: 12 August, 2021, 11:55 am

What Bangladesh needs to do to attract foreign investors

Bangladesh must take necessary measures to make considerable improvements in global indexes that reflect a country’s business environment

 

FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) plays an indispensable role in enhancing economic growth of a country. Its significance is much greater for growing economies like that of Bangladesh. 

Higher FDI inflow leads to greater employment generation, competition, higher output, better wages and improved working conditions. 

It also effectuates better exchange rate stability which is vital for the economy. Essentially, it is an important avenue for achieving economic development.

Bangladesh has been struggling to increase the pace of its FDI inflow for some time. In addition, according to Bangladesh Bank data, there has been a 39.05% decline in FDI inflow in FY20-21 amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Although there was a growing trend in the FDI inflow before the pandemic, that increasing rate was not sustained. Since 2014, there has been a declining trend of FDI net inflows (as a percentage of GDP) in Bangladesh. 

This was reflected by the underperformance of one of the targets in the 7th five-year plan. Specifically, the government had a target of securing FDI worth $32 billion under the seventh five-year plan (FY16-FY20) but managed to attract less than $10 billion. 

It is very surprising that Bangladesh still does not have a pertinent FDI policy. It is mandatory to formulate a complete and comprehensive FDI policy that will attract more investment. There are several flaws in the current investment policy that discourage foreign investors from investing in Bangladesh. 

For instance, the lock-in period for a foreign investor in Bangladesh is three years which is much higher than most of its contending nations. Furthermore, the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act needs to be updated.

The existing taxation and VAT policies need revitalisation and are not welcoming for foreign investment. For instance, in the economic zone of India or Vietnam, no VAT is required to set up industries. Yet, in Bangladesh, 15% VAT is required to do that. 

Again, Indonesia offers a 50% tax holiday on FDI worth $7 million for five years. Moreover, if investments above $7 million are made, the country offers a 100 percent tax holiday for five years. Such lucrative tax incentives have been one of the main reasons why the aforementioned countries have been able to sustainably entice foreign investors.

It should be noted that just providing incentives is not enough. It is imperative to earn the confidence of the investors as well.

There are certain globally recognised indicators like 'ease of doing businesses', 'efficiency of legal framework', etc. that reflect how conducive the environment of a country is for investment. Before investing in a foreign country when investors assess the business environment, such indicators carry substantial importance. 

In "ease of doing business" index, Bangladesh moved from 130th to 172nd position in 2014 and there had not been any significant improvements since then. As per the latest report of 2020, Bangladesh ranked 168th position among 190 economies which portray a negative image of the country's business environment to the investors. 

Therefore, Bangladesh must take necessary measures to make considerable improvements in each indicator of these global indexes.

Since Bangladesh is going through a demographic dividend, there is no difficulty in terms of the supply of labour. However, foreign investors are more likely to invest somewhere with a supply of skilled labour. 

An unskilled labour force has been one of the major problems for Bangladesh in terms of tackling its unemployment for a long time. The country must pay more attention to skill development so that it will not only attract more FDI but also address the problem of youth unemployment. 

Despite the aforementioned setbacks, some positive steps have been taken in recent times including infrastructural development, power sector development, digitalisation in the registration process, regulatory reforms in foreign exchange transaction guidelines, etc. Furthermore, the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) has initiated some reform activities among which the 'one-stop service' is noteworthy. 

Finally, if the necessary measures are undertaken to address the country's existing challenges, it will have a great impact on improving the magnitude of the FDI inflow which will in turn foster sustainable economic growth.

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BIWTA showed negligence to Padma Bridge project office advice not to set up jetty at Banglabazar

 MUNIMA SULTANA | Published:  August 15, 2021 09:44:44

Repeated incidents of hitting the piers of Padma Bridge by ferries have been reported due to negligence of directions given by the bridge project office.

In the very beginning, sources said, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB) Project office opposed setting up a jetty at Banglabazar in Madaripurand suggested it further upstream around Kobutarkhola.

It also directed the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) to guide ferries to cross the bridge between piers four and eight for two ways.

The office asked the ferries to use piers four, five and six while coming from Shimulia jetty and piers six, seven and eight while coming from Banglabazar jetty to avoid mainstream river water.

Experts say mainstream water of the river crosses below piers eight to 22, making ferries difficult to manage the wheel under the bridge as they also face turbulence due to the swelling of water in the rainy season.

After the August 09 accident, sources said, a joint meeting was also held at the cantonment on Jajira side on August 11 in the presence of 99 Composite Brigade's commander where similar directions were also given.

They said the attendees of the meeting, including BIWTC and BIWTA chairmen, also crossed the river through the suggested route without any trouble.

But the directions were not followed by ferries, thus inviting another occurrence of hitting the piers a day after the meeting.

"The ferries that cross the river from Banglabazar don't follow the route as directed. Ferries try to cross under the bridge coming from the channel in a curved way, thus pushing them into mainstream water just below the bridge," said a project insider.

An official also said the ferry carrying BIWTC and BITWA heads safely crossed the piers between six and seven after heading 500 metres to 1.0 kilometre straight from the channel coming from Banglabazar.

Despite this directive, employees and staff of ferries ignored it, thus inviting another occurrence of hitting pier number 10 just after the meeting.

The PMB office informed the BIWTC and BIWTA of the river's velocity recorded at 3.25 metres to 3.5 metres per second which is much higher than the ferry's capacity of 1.5 metres per second.

It installed most of the piers of the bridge in the mighty Padma in 2019, but there has been no such incident of hitting piers in the past two seasons.

Last year's river erosion forced the BIWTA to shift the Banglabazar jetty slightly downstream despite opposition from the PMB.

It finally opened in November 2020.

It is also reported that Shimulia jetty at Mawa site was also set up ignoring suggestions.

However, the BIWTA said the problem occurred due to emersion of new chars (shoals) between the channel. Due to repeated accidents, the authorities are now considering shifting the Banglabazar jetty to Majhirkandi jetty in Shariatpur.

Since Banglabazar jetty in Madaripur was set up, the PMB faced at least five incidents of hitting piers since July 04.

The last accident occurred while a ro-ro ferry was crossing the bridge between piers 10 and 11.

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TBS Report

14 August, 2021, 09:10 pm

Last modified: 14 August, 2021, 09:12 pm

Commerce minister urges NRBs, foreign investors to invest in Bangladesh

 

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has called on foreign investors and non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) to invest in Bangladesh as the country is now offering ample business scopes for investors. 

He urged the NRBs to get involved in Bangladesh anyway they can, and help the country with their talents and experiences.

Bangladesh would benefit a lot by their (NRBs) experience and engagement, the minister said while addressing a seminar titled 'Bangladesh the Next Investment Frontier' as the chief guest held in the USA on Saturday. 

In association with Bangladesh's commerce ministry and the consulate general of Bangladesh in Los Angeles, Startup Bangladesh Limited hosted the seminar for foreign investors and expatriates in Silicon Valley, USA. 

The event highlighted the investment scopes in Bangladesh's various sectors for the NRB's and the foreign investors.

Tareque Muhammad, consul general of Bangladesh in Los Angeles; Md Hafizur Rahman, additional commerce secretary (export); Abdur Rahim Khan, joint commerce secretary; Shomi Kaiser, president of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), and SM Khurshid-Ul-Alam, commercial counselor at the consulate general of Bangladesh in Los Angeles, attended the event. 

Many globally prominent business leaders in the US technology sector, startup founders, venture fund founders, and distinguished professionals from globally prominent companies in Silicon Valley, participated in the seminar.  

Tina Jabeen, managing director and chief executive officer of Startup Bangladesh Limited, presented an experience sharing session in presence of special guests, academics and NRBs.

She discussed the current state of foreign direct investment in Bangladesh and its strategies that might encourage US investment partnerships with Bangladeshi startups. 

In his remark, Alfredo Coppola of US Market Center, the longest running accelerator in Silicon Valley and manager of the BIG (Bangabandhu Inovation Grant) International competition, said Jabeen practically connected Silicon Valley with the startup ecosystem in Bangladesh. 

Md Hafizur Rahman, additional commerce secretary (export) and SM Khurshid- Ul-Alam, commercial counselor at the consulate general of Bangladesh in Los Angeles, also spoke at the event.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/infrastructure/new-circular-riverways-plan-aims-ease-dhaka-traffic-2030-288727#.YRlHFTm2JRw.facebook

Jahidul Islam

15 August, 2021, 10:50 pm

Last modified: 15 August, 2021, 10:59 pm

New circular riverways plan aims to ease Dhaka traffic by 2030

In the first phase of establishing the river routes, $636 million – equivalent to Tk5,400 crore – will be spent

circular_waterways_under_delta_plan-01.j

 

The government is planning to build circular waterways around Dhaka by increasing the navigability of major rivers and a canal through dredging and digging to reduce road traffic.

An estimated cost of $2.9 billion has been drawn up to restore navigation of the Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakkhya rivers surrounding Dhaka, and the Tongi canal, demarcate the shoreline of the rivers, set up treatment plants to improve water quality, and construct a sewage treatment plant.

The government has set a target to complete the work by 2030 under the 100-year Delta Plan, the longest climate compatible development plan in the country's history, approved in 2018.

Since Dhaka city has insufficient road spaces for its rising population, vehicles move at a pace close to the walking speed, according to a research done by the World Bank and the Bangladesh Institute of Engineering and Technology (Buet).

Traffic congestion in the capital costs $3-5 billion a year, according to an estimate by the World Bank and Buet, while the government estimates a loss of $7.05 billion that is equivalent to 2% of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

Experts have been suggesting alternate transport systems around Dhaka to bring down the loss.

The city's economic contribution accounts for nearly 35% of the total GDP. The per capita income in Dhaka is $4,242 whereas the national figure is $2,448. By 2035, Dhaka's population will reach 2.5 crore from 1.8 crore now, and per capita income $8,000.

If the shores and navigability of the rivers can be protected and a river transport network established to lower the cost of business, the economy will see further growth and per capita income of Dhaka residents would climb to $9,200 by 2035, according to the World Bank.

But it fears that the city will not be able to reap the benefits of urbanisation if there is a lack of clear vision, careful planning and implementation.

In the first phase of establishing the river routes, $636 million – equivalent to Tk5,400 crore – will be spent.

The government has already sought $600 million in aid from the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The Economic Relations Division has received primary approval of its aid proposals sent to the two agencies.

The World Bank has prepared a concept paper on funding of the project. It, however, expressed concern over waste management in Dhaka, allocation for the job, water quality of the rivers and the government's limited allocation for water management.

Where to spend $636 million

The project implementation document of the World Bank, updated until April, says the money will be spent in four components of the project. Of the fund, $295 million is set aside for reclaiming rivers and canals.

This part of the project will cover restoring natural drainage function of rivers and canals, demarcation of their boundaries; showcasing a pilot for hazardous waste and plastic management; and land reclamation.

Once water flow is reestablished and rivers and canals are reconnected, water quality and navigation will improve.

Another $330 million will be allocated for wastewater collection and treatment. To improve the water quality of rivers and canals, domestic sewage treatment plants, sewer networks, and other on-site sanitation facilities in informal residential areas will be built.

And $10 million would be allocated for institutional strengthening and project management.

World Bank on water pollution in Dhaka

The only sewage treatment plant in Dhaka purifies only 3-4 crore litres of water a day while 125 crore litres of wastewater from households end up in rivers, the global lender said in the concept paper.

Referring to a 2008 report, it said industries around Dhaka had released 125 crore litres of wastewater into rivers back then. The quantity of wastewater being released into the water bodies must have increased over the years but only 20% of the factories have effluent treatment plants.

Health, social and economic damage done by the release of untreated water into the rivers are costing $150-170 million a year.

A two-decade old initiative

The first initiative to build circular waterways around the capital and launch water bus services was taken in 2000. Two waterbuses were inaugurated on the Ashulia-Sadarghat route in 2004, but the services were suspended within a short time.

The route was reopened with two waterbuses in 2010. The government has tried to revive the route four times but the effort did not succeed.

A 30-kilometre route from Sadarghat to Ashulia was established at Tk40 crore. In the second phase, a 40km Tongi-Rajakhali-Demra-Kanchpur route was built at Tk54 crore.

Experts think if an effective communication network is built around Dhaka city, the transport scenario here will have a turn around.

Architect Iqbal Habib said many such initiatives had been taken, but nothing positive came out of those because of the absence of coordination. Before opening up water routes, a transport system has to be designed that will make the routes commercially viable, he added.

In the past, shipping was introduced on several river routes, but people showed little interest in boating as there was no road or other means of communication from jetties.

If water communication around Dhaka can be aligned with roads, rail, metrorail and elevated expressways, passengers travelling from north to south will not move into the city's centre. Passengers from east to west will also avoid the city's thoroughfares, said Iqbal Habib.

Measures to establish road and rail communication

To connect the circular waterways with the city's roads, the government has taken a move to build inner circular roads of 91km at $2 billion.

As part of the initiative, the Water Development Board will work on 24km roads from Beribadh on the city's eastern side to the road connecting an elevated expressway. The remaining 67km will be constructed by the Roads and Highways Department.

Roads will be constructed from Teromukh of Dhaka to Demra via Dhaur-Gabtali-Sadarghat-Postagola-Chashara. The Water Development Board will build embankments and elevated roads from the River Demra to Teromukh on the city's eastern side.

Construction of 80km circular rail tracks aligned with the roads was approved by the cabinet committee on economic affairs in 2018. It will be implemented through public-private partnership. As many as 20 stations will be built by the tracks.

The project cost was estimated at $8.37 billion after a pre-feasibility study. Several companies in Japan are willing to fund the rail project through a government-to-government deal. Bangladesh received funding proposals from Korea as well.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/economy/bangladesh/govt-giving-importance-to-local-foreign-investment-for-post-pandemic-recovery-1628945544

Govt giving importance to local, foreign investment for post-pandemic recovery

 UNB | Published:  August 14, 2021 18:52:24 | Updated:  August 14, 2021 22:10:54

With the pandemic hitting the economy hard as an external shock, the government gives immense importance to investments, both local and foreign ones, for ensuring balanced development and improving the business environment in the country.

"The government will take effective steps to build infrastructures and provide other policy supports to improve the investment-friendly environment," says an official document obtained by UNB.

To increase investments and create jobs, it says, steps have been taken to establish 100 Economic Zones across the country, which will provide employment opportunities for nearly 10 million people. Approval has already been given for the establishment of 97 Economic Zones.

The document says production has already begun in nine economic zones and the development work on 28 economic zones is underway, creating jobs for around 40,000 people. "Employment opportunities will be created for another 800,000 people," it says.

As of now, investment proposals, worth US$ 27.07 billion, from 210 investors have been submitted for these economic zones. "Of the total amount, about US$ 1.60 billion is foreign investment."

The largest Economic Zone in the public sector 'Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Industrial City' is being developed in Mirsarai, Sonagazi and Sitakunda upazilas on 30,000 acres of land as a modern industrial zone.

To woo investors, seminars, workshops, roadshows and tradeshows are being organised and sponsored both at home and abroad.

Through these arrangements, as per the document, Bangladesh can identify new investors, which will help augment the investment.

More importantly, the document says, the government is laying special emphasis on the implementation of projects under Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to attract investment required for the implementation of the government's development plans.

At present, as many as 76 projects are scheduled to be implemented under the PPP, against which the investment worth US$ 27.76 billion has been mobilised.

One project under PPP has already been implemented and six more projects are under implementation.

The process of bringing Customs Bond Management under automation is underway so that the manufacturing activities of export-oriented industries like the readymade garments industry also come under the Customs Bonded System.

As per the official paper, the tender process for the procurement of relevant solutions and software for automation has been completed. "It's expected that this will bring dynamism in the production and exports of all types of export-oriented industries."

Meanwhile, the government has taken massive reform programmes to improve its position in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index.

According to the latest World Bank annual ratings, Bangladesh rose to a rank of 168th among 190 economies in the global ease of doing business index in 2020 from 176th in 2019.

As per the World Bank Report, reduced registration fees, improvement in the case of getting new electricity connections and improved access to credit information helped the country level up by eight notches.

The World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index is used to indicate how well the business environment of a country is. "Bangladesh's position in that index has improved from 176th to 168th in 2019 and it has been included in the top 20 countries that have undertaken massive reform activities to improve the Ease of Doing Business Index," the document mentions.

The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) is working to improve further Bangladesh's position in the index within double digits -- below 100.

To this end, BIDA has set up a specialised team to accelerate implementation of various reform activities, the document adds.

The One Stop Service (OSS) portal system has been in place since 2019 to provide all investment-related services from a single platform.

Services of various companies related to investment are being added to the portal in phases.

A total of 42 services of 12 companies are being provided online in the current financial year with the target of providing 154 investment services of 35 companies through One Stop Service (OSS) portal.

The remaining services will be added to the portal in the next financial year.

It is expected that Bangladesh's position will improve significantly, the government hopes.

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2021/08/16/extreme-religious-jihadi-bangla-contents-flood-digital-platforms

Extreme religious, Jihadi Bangla contents flood digital platforms

 M Abul Kalam Azad

 Published at 08:52 am August 16th, 2021

There is not a single official platform to counter the propaganda narratives of extremist groups, only a handful of radical platforms and contents are taken down

A video on 44 ways to join jihad was uploaded on the social media platform Facebook on August 7. The three-and-half minute video posted from a fake account, Ibne Nuhash, began with an Arabic sermon, showing the Holy Kaaba and horse-riding warriors fighting in the desert. It was followed by a Bangla interpretation of the sermon.

Most contents in the profile--texts or audio-visuals--shared among 1, 857 friends are about waging Jihad and combat training.

The user recently posted a list of 30 Islamic books, many denouncing democracy and democratic rulers while a few were exclusively on Jihad.

The account, which is just a month old, is merely the tip of an iceberg.

For example, another user, Mohammad Bin Kasim, regularly posts photos, videos and other contents to misguide people and push them toward radical ideology.

Many of his posts call for taking up arms and getting ready for Jihad.

The user posts many tips on evading the eyes of the law enforcement agencies and opening a fake account, using VPN and tor browser to spread jihadi contents for his 5000 friends.

Both the accounts are fake but successfully promote the ideology of al Qaeda. Such fake and real Facebook accounts and pages are plenty and operated by Bangladeshis from home and abroad to promote the ideology of al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS).

Facebook is immensely popular among Bangladeshis and thus extremists still find this social media platform a suitable territory to operate, although Facebook has a policy to take down all extreme contents from its platform.

Moreover, there are numerous IPs, websites, forums, blogs and messaging channels that are full of Bangla contents aimed at attracting the young and calling them, under the flag of Jihad, to establish Allah’s rule in Bangladesh and elsewhere.

Extremist groups have their own IPs. For example, the IP using which Gazwatul Hind is being run, is perhaps one of the biggest treasure troves of religious, radical and jihadi contents.

One will need months to go through all the contents available here.

Like every radical platform, Gazwatul Hind shares links with hundreds of other platforms that are actively spreading radical ideology. One of them is Muwahdidun, a blog where guidelines are shared for those who are willing to join online Jihad. They provide instructions on how to operate as a lone wolf mujahid.

The forum has links of 32 media platforms that are run by different radical and jihadist groups in Bangladesh and elsewhere along with an archive section.

Among many records in the archives, there is a list of 24 Bangladeshis who died in Afghanistan while fighting Soviet soldiers in the 1980s. A note reads: names of those Bangladeshis who fought against the US soldiers and died will be disclosed soon.

The alfirdaws.org seems like a news site but a closer look will reveal that it is a radical site publishing articles on carrying out attacks and various activities of jihadist groups in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The headlines, photos and videos are crafted to glorify the groups and spread a message that there is no alternative but to take up arms and join combat for the cause of Islam.

One of the latest articles describes how the mujahideen of al Shabab, an al Qaeda supported jihadist group in East Africa, occupied territory battling Ugandan soldiers.

Launched from Iceland in mid-2019, this site is being operated by a group of Bangladeshis living in different countries and has a good number of readers here in the country.

Most of these platforms are interconnected, share each other’s contents and promote their activities to expand networks. Many operate openly while others do so covertly.

A Dhaka Tribune study on a dozen radical platforms over the past couple of months has revealed that they are very active and upload Bangla contents frequently. There are contents that term the Awami League government and law enforcement agencies as Taghut (Islamic terminology denoting a focus of worship other than God) and criticizing them for going against Islam lovers. Some contents clearly hint at toppling the government and replacing it with Islamic rule.

“Hundreds of these platforms popped up during these pandemic times and are breeding a new generation of extremists,” said cybersecurity analyst Tanvir Hassan Zoha, who has been tracking radical networks since 2012.

Scanty monitoring, no official platform to counter propaganda

The law enforcement agencies cannot keep on tracking the vast trove of online radical activities and pull them down. What is surprising is that there is not a single platform run by any government agency to counter the radical platforms and their extreme religious and Jihadi narratives.

Dedicated online platforms to counter extremists have been in discussion for many years but Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) Deputy Commissioner Abdul Mannan says for each platform that is taken down, many more pop up.

“We do track and shutdown platforms but the fact is radicals don’t remain in one platform for long. They open new windows and shift there,” he told Dhaka Tribune.

Another CTTC official pointed out, “We should have several powerful websites and Facebook pages to fight radicals digitally or the radicals will have a free reign to recruit new members and grow strong.”

Extremists are in darknet

Tanvir Hassan Zoha, who is also the managing director of the IT firm Backdoor Private Ltd, says that among the patterns that have been noticed over the years is of militants successfully adapting to new technologies and social media platforms to reach a larger audience.

Last year, Hizb-ut Tahrir organized an online seminar and in its announcement poster the banned outfit used its dark web link for people to join the program live.

“Radicals now consider the surface web risky. So, they are slowly moving to darknet access which needs a certain level of tech knowledge. Many global and regional jihadists have already been in the dark web for some years now. We need to track the extremist groups in the darknet for getting a real picture of extremism and terrorism,” Zoha said[1] .

The story doesn’t mention whose quote it is. I am assuming it’s Zoha’s.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/govt-french-afd-sign-eu50m-loan-agreement-biffl-projects-289093

TBS Report

16 August, 2021, 06:20 pm

Last modified: 16 August, 2021, 06:32 pm

Govt & French AFD sign €50m loan agreement for BIFFL projects

The loan has a maturity period of 15 years with a grace period of three years

untitled_design_1.jpg?itok=fpb9EuI7&time

The government recently signed a €50 million (Tk496.92 crore) Credit Facility Agreement (CFA) agreement with Agence Française de Développement (AFD) to be administered through the Bangladesh Infrastructure Finance Fund Limited (BIFFL), to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy, and women entrepreneurship projects.  

The loan, with a maturity period of 15 years and a grace period of three years, has an interest rate of Euribor six months+35 bp, according to a Monday press release.

Economic Relations Division Secretary Fatima Yasmin and Benoit Chassatte, AFD Country Director, Bangladesh, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations on 12 August.

According to the press statement, the fund will contribute to the economic transition of Bangladesh towards a greener economy.

The credit line will be provided by the Bangladesh government to the public non-banking financial institution BIFFL, to finance investments in the fields of energy efficiency, the production of renewable energies, mainly in rural areas, and women's entrepreneurship.

AFD, the French government arm that deals with overseas aid, has been operating in Bangladesh since 2012. It supports development projects for urban development and infrastructure, power & green energy, as well as corporate and social responsibility programs.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/multimodal-connectivity-key-boosting-trade-bbin-sub-region-stakeholders-289714#.YRvRx6NHtQA.facebook

TBS Report

17 August, 2021, 09:05 pm

Last modified: 17 August, 2021, 09:13 pm

Multimodal connectivity key to boosting trade in BBIN sub-region: Stakeholders

They say the existing trade and connectivity are very poor compared to potential

bbin.jpg?itok=w7KRpPzJ&timestamp=1567606

 

Multimodal connectivity involving road, river, sea, and air routes is needed to enhance trade in the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) sub-region, speakers told a virtual meeting Tuesday.

They said the sub-region's existing trade and connectivity are very poor compared to potential.

Addressing the event organised jointly by Unnayan Shamannay and India's Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International, former governor of the Bangladesh Bank Dr Atiur Rahman said despite huge potential, trade among the BBIN countries is much lower than that among the European Union members and also among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) states.

He said enhancing trade connectivity among the BBIN countries would benefit not only the business community but also the people of the sub-region.

It would also have positive impacts on employment, domestic demand mobilisation, and the macroeconomic situation as a whole, added Atiur, also the chairperson of Unnayan Shamannay.

He urged all stakeholders in the BBIN countries to enhance trade and collaboration in the context of recovery from the coronavirus-induced economic shock.

"Multimodal connectivity is our target so that we can integrate the supply chains in the region further," he added. 

During his visit to Bangladesh in March this year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina emphasised robust regional connectivity to expand trade.

He lauded Hasina's initiatives for multimodal connectivity.

Bangladesh at the time sought greater access to the Indian territory to connect with Nepal and Bhutan and requested Delhi to approve the new routes.

Both leaders stressed the need for signing a trilateral memorandum of understanding involving Bangladesh, India, and Nepal to implement the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement.

Dr Khondoker Golam Moazzem, research director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, told Tuesday's programme Bangladesh had achieved success in bilateral ties but not in regional connectivity.

He said at least one instance of success is needed in this respect and also shed light on the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement.

He said India, Nepal, and Bhutan should contribute to developing trade infrastructure in Bangladesh as they would also benefit from that.

The BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement was signed in 2015 to facilitate unrestricted cross-border movement of cargo, passengers, and personal vehicles among the four countries.

Under the agreement, trucks carrying export-import or transit cargo can move within the territories of other countries without trans-shipping to local trucks at border land ports.

But the agreement's implementation is delayed as the countries are working to clarify some of the provisions that are supposed to be elaborated in protocols.

"Unless Bangladeshi trucks directly carry export goods to their destinations, export volumes will not pick up. We want to send goods to India directly via ships," Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, chief executive officer at Pran Group, told the event. 

Neelima Akhter, additional secretary to the Road Transport and Highways Division, pointed out that along with dealing with infrastructural challenges, the discourse on trade connectivity among the BBIN countries should ensure adequate attention to inter-country tax management issues.

Commodore Golam Sadque, chairman at Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, emphasised the role of private sector innovation to further facilitate trans-boundary trade in the sub-region.

Matlub Ahmed, president at the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, welcomed further research and dialogue on trans-boundary trade and commerce.

He said private sector linkages among the BBIN nations need to be facilitated.

Robart Shuvro Guda, Unnayan Shamannay's lead economist, shared the challenges and prospects of multimodal connectivity based on findings from a survey conducted on four land ports, four river ports, three sea ports, and a trade hub in Bangladesh.

Since January last year, CUTS International, with support from the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, has been implementing a project titled "Enabling a Political Economy Discourse for Multi-modal Connectivity in the BBIN Sub-region (M-Connect)". Unnayan Shamannay, Bhutan Media and Communications Institute, and Nepal Economic Forum are the project partners.

The project partners have identified four critical transport corridors in the BBIN sub-region and have conducted primary and secondary research in more than 50 strategic locations.

The four proposed multimodal corridors are Kathmandu to Chattogram or Mongla via Banglabandha; Kathmandu to Visakhapatnam via Kolkata-Haldia; Bhutan or Northeast India to Mongla or Chattogram via Jogighopa, Tamabil; and Kolkata to Agartala via Benapole, Chattogram, Ashuganj, Akhaura.

The research conducted by the project partners provides critical information on the current status of infrastructure and connectivity of the four corridors, the existing gaps, and also ways to mitigate infrastructure and other gaps in the BBIN sub-region with respect to taking the multimodal connectivity discourse forward.

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9 minutes ago, Joel Ahmed said:

https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/multimodal-connectivity-key-boosting-trade-bbin-sub-region-stakeholders-289714#.YRvRx6NHtQA.facebook

TBS Report

17 August, 2021, 09:05 pm

Last modified: 17 August, 2021, 09:13 pm

Multimodal connectivity key to boosting trade in BBIN sub-region: Stakeholders

They say the existing trade and connectivity are very poor compared to potential

bbin.jpg?itok=w7KRpPzJ&timestamp=1567606

 

Multimodal connectivity involving road, river, sea, and air routes is needed to enhance trade in the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) sub-region, speakers told a virtual meeting Tuesday.

They said the sub-region's existing trade and connectivity are very poor compared to potential.

Addressing the event organised jointly by Unnayan Shamannay and India's Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International, former governor of the Bangladesh Bank Dr Atiur Rahman said despite huge potential, trade among the BBIN countries is much lower than that among the European Union members and also among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) states.

He said enhancing trade connectivity among the BBIN countries would benefit not only the business community but also the people of the sub-region.

It would also have positive impacts on employment, domestic demand mobilisation, and the macroeconomic situation as a whole, added Atiur, also the chairperson of Unnayan Shamannay.

He urged all stakeholders in the BBIN countries to enhance trade and collaboration in the context of recovery from the coronavirus-induced economic shock.

"Multimodal connectivity is our target so that we can integrate the supply chains in the region further," he added. 

During his visit to Bangladesh in March this year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina emphasised robust regional connectivity to expand trade.

He lauded Hasina's initiatives for multimodal connectivity.

Bangladesh at the time sought greater access to the Indian territory to connect with Nepal and Bhutan and requested Delhi to approve the new routes.

Both leaders stressed the need for signing a trilateral memorandum of understanding involving Bangladesh, India, and Nepal to implement the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement.

Dr Khondoker Golam Moazzem, research director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, told Tuesday's programme Bangladesh had achieved success in bilateral ties but not in regional connectivity.

He said at least one instance of success is needed in this respect and also shed light on the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement.

He said India, Nepal, and Bhutan should contribute to developing trade infrastructure in Bangladesh as they would also benefit from that.

The BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement was signed in 2015 to facilitate unrestricted cross-border movement of cargo, passengers, and personal vehicles among the four countries.

Under the agreement, trucks carrying export-import or transit cargo can move within the territories of other countries without trans-shipping to local trucks at border land ports.

But the agreement's implementation is delayed as the countries are working to clarify some of the provisions that are supposed to be elaborated in protocols.

"Unless Bangladeshi trucks directly carry export goods to their destinations, export volumes will not pick up. We want to send goods to India directly via ships," Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, chief executive officer at Pran Group, told the event. 

Neelima Akhter, additional secretary to the Road Transport and Highways Division, pointed out that along with dealing with infrastructural challenges, the discourse on trade connectivity among the BBIN countries should ensure adequate attention to inter-country tax management issues.

Commodore Golam Sadque, chairman at Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, emphasised the role of private sector innovation to further facilitate trans-boundary trade in the sub-region.

Matlub Ahmed, president at the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, welcomed further research and dialogue on trans-boundary trade and commerce.

He said private sector linkages among the BBIN nations need to be facilitated.

Robart Shuvro Guda, Unnayan Shamannay's lead economist, shared the challenges and prospects of multimodal connectivity based on findings from a survey conducted on four land ports, four river ports, three sea ports, and a trade hub in Bangladesh.

Since January last year, CUTS International, with support from the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, has been implementing a project titled "Enabling a Political Economy Discourse for Multi-modal Connectivity in the BBIN Sub-region (M-Connect)". Unnayan Shamannay, Bhutan Media and Communications Institute, and Nepal Economic Forum are the project partners.

The project partners have identified four critical transport corridors in the BBIN sub-region and have conducted primary and secondary research in more than 50 strategic locations.

The four proposed multimodal corridors are Kathmandu to Chattogram or Mongla via Banglabandha; Kathmandu to Visakhapatnam via Kolkata-Haldia; Bhutan or Northeast India to Mongla or Chattogram via Jogighopa, Tamabil; and Kolkata to Agartala via Benapole, Chattogram, Ashuganj, Akhaura.

The research conducted by the project partners provides critical information on the current status of infrastructure and connectivity of the four corridors, the existing gaps, and also ways to mitigate infrastructure and other gaps in the BBIN sub-region with respect to taking the multimodal connectivity discourse forward.

It remains to be seen how equitable and far-reaching these trade arrangement might turn out to be. 

Apart from fancy acronyms, I've some apprehension towards indian led trade blocs.

 

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28 minutes ago, Nihonjin Karatumo said:

It remains to be seen how equitable and far-reaching these trade arrangement might turn out to be. 

Apart from fancy acronyms, I've some apprehension towards indian led trade blocs.

 

Bangladesh should focus on RCEP bloc. 

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8 hours ago, Joel Ahmed said:

Bangladesh should focus on RCEP bloc. 

For Bangladesh, Japan seems to be leading the way nowadays. 

IDK, but China's material and economic investment chains are entrenched here in Bangladesh. And is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Diversifying, investment partner from RCEP region will provide greater leverage nonetheless. Likewise, at this juncture their capacity is not up to scratch wrt China.   

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2021/08/17/what-is-the-government-doing-to-protect-padma-bridge

What is the government doing to protect Padma Bridge?

 Ali Asif Shawon

 Published at 11:45 pm August 17th, 2021

Lighted buoys floated, ferries to be upgraded, operators to be under army surveillance

The Padma Bridge is not just a mere construction project but a symbol of hope and progress for a developing country like Bangladesh.  

The mega project is expected to boost the country's GDP by 1.2% once it opens for public use, which is likely next year.

However, as unfortunate as it sounds, the pier caps of the bridge have been hit by ferries on different occasions in the recent past, the latest being on August 13.

Although the collisions did not cause any infrastructural damage to the dream bridge, such repeated incidents do raise a lot of questions, speculations and fears. 

Following these recent developments, the government was forced to take several measures to ensure the protection of the Padma Bridge. 

A high-level meeting – attended by Shipping Ministry and Padma Bridge officials – was held on the night of the latest ferry collision incident to determine procedures to protect the bridge’s piers from collision with ferries.

Then on Sunday, a lighted buoy was floated 3km south of spans 12 and 13 of the Padma Bridge to help ferries avoid colliding with the piers while passing under the bridge.

The move came following a meeting between Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), Bangladesh Inland Water Transport and Communication (BIWTC), Bangladesh Armed Forces, and the Bridge Authority.

Individuals who attended the Shipping Ministry meeting, seeking anonymity, said that as the Padma Bridge would be opened for public use by next year, the pressure on ferries would decrease dramatically.

Commenting on the proposal to relocate the Banglabazar ferry terminal to Majhirkandi ghat of Zajira in Shariatpur, they said: “It will involve a large sum of money to shift the terminal to a new place. At the same time, the relocation process will be quite lengthy.”

According to experts, ferries from Banglabazar to Shimulia face a strong current immediately after passing through the Hajra channel just 1.3km away from the bridge. As a result of the current, it is difficult to control ferries on the turn and this has led to multiple collisions in the recent past. They observed that due to the construction of the bridge, the current of the river changed during the rainy season.

A top official of the Shipping Ministry told Dhaka Tribune, “We have left the ferry issue on this route to the Bridge Authority, and they will decide when and how we can operate ferries on this route around the Padma Bridge,”

When contacted, BIWTC Chairman Syed Md Tajul Islam said: “To protect the bridge, we will operate a very limited number of ferries on the Shimulia-Banglabazar route in Munshiganj. 

“Only five of our latest ferries will be operational this season. We suggest that all use the Paturia-Daulatdia route more.”

“We have also floated lighted buoys to help ferry operators navigate better under the bridge,” the BIWTC chief added.

Tajul Islam said that the Bangladesh Army would have all the information regarding ferry operators and would also bring them under surveillance with speedboats when necessary. 

“A powerful tugboat will be available near the Padma Bridge to help the ferries as well.

“We have also instructed the ferries to immediately drop anchor whenever the weather turns bad,” he added.

Last week, a ferry once again slammed into a pillar of the under-construction Padma Bridge, just four days after a similar incident had taken place.

According to people familiar with the matter, the ferry named Kakoli lost control due to strong currents and hit the pillar instead of coming through pillars number 11 and 12.

The incident occurred just hours before State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury’s scheduled visit to the Shimulia-Banglabazar waterway.

Following the incident, he visited the Padma Bridge area and the Majhikandi ghat in Madaripur at around 10am.

At the end of the visit, he said although there was no significant structural damage, the repeated incidents of ferries colliding into the Padma Bridge were quite jarring.

Earlier, inquiries were initiated and operators were suspended over similar incidents on July 23 and August 9.

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Rafiqul Islam

18 August, 2021, 12:00 pm

Last modified: 18 August, 2021, 12:10 pm

Anwar Galvanizing to expand business investing Tk27cr

The company is planning to expand its market share of galvanised iron-pipe fittings (GI Fittings) from existing 25% to 52%. 

 

anwar_galvanizings_update-01.png?itok=Ap

 

Anwar Galvanizing Ltd, a sister concern of Anwar Group, has decided to double its production by investing Tk27.37 crore.

The company is planning to increase production to expand its market share of galvanised iron-pipe fittings (GI Fittings) from existing 25% to 52%. 

"The demand for the GI fittings has been increasing gradually in the recent years due to the infrastructure development in both public and private sectors," said Tauhidul Islam, company secretary of Anwar Galvanizing Ltd.

"Besides, the import of GI products from China had decreased significantly during the pandemic. As a result, the company is going to make new investments to grab the market," he added.

GI fittings are an important part of the construction and housing sector. The bulk of the local demand for these products is met by imports from China.

But, the novel coronavirus pandemic that led to a halt in export-import activities for several months has paved the way for the local manufacturers of these products to increase sales, said the people involved in this industry.

The investment plan of Anwar Galvanizing

Anwar Galvanizing Limited went into operation in the mid-1980s with the production of galvanised corrugated sheets.

The company was the country's first and leading manufacturer of GI Fittings and brake drums.

To meet the growing GI fittings demand, the company had halted producing brake drums in 2019.

Now the company is going to increase its production capacity by 2,417 metric tonnes per annum, according to the disclosure published on both stock exchanges on Tuesday.

After the implementation of the new plan, its total production capacity will be 4,725 metric tonnes per annum.

The additional 2,417 metric tonnes of GI fittings shall directly replace the products that are currently being imported to the country, said the company.

"After doubling the production, the company's market share will increase, which will impact its financials and revenue," said Tauhidul Islam.

The new expansion project shall be financed from a mix of own resources and borrowed finance.

The new investment plan is expected to be in operation by the fourth quarter of 2022.

The company said they have received a sanction letter on 23 May from the Dhaka Electric Supply Company Ltd (Desco) for an additional power supply of 1 MW that will support the expansion.

"The demand of our products increased gradually before the pandemic. After the pandemic started, the demand has grown significantly. We have been in a monopoly position in the in GI fittings products market for quite some time. In the recent times some companies came into the business but they were significant," said Tauhidul Islam.

Significant growth in revenue and profit amid pandemic

As product demand increased amid the pandemic, its revenue and profit rose significantly.

In July 2020 to March 2021, its sales rose by 11% and profit by 49% compared to the same time of the previous year.

In this period, its sales reached Tk43.77 crore and profit Tk3.24 crore, which was Tk39.43 crore and Tk2.17 crore respectively.

Earlier, in FY20 its sales grew by 23% to Tk53.42 crore and its profit jumped by 35% to Tk2.95 crore.

Its sales amounted to Tk43.34 crore and profit Tk2.19 crore in FY19.

Based on its financials, the company had paid a 10% cash and 5% stock dividends for its shareholders for FY20.

Anwar Galvanizing got listed on the Dhaka Stock Exchange in 1996. Its paid-up capital is Tk14.52 crore. Of the company's total shares, sponsors and directors hold 35.32%, institutional investors hold 23.51% and general investors hold 41.17%.

Its share price rose by Tk9.8 or 2.94% on Tuesday, closed at Tk343 each on the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE).

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Ripon Dey

19 August, 2021, 10:20 am

Last modified: 19 August, 2021, 10:15 am

Kulaura-Shahbazpur rail projects almost stalls 

As works are progressing at a snail’s pace, it has raised concerns about whether or not the contractor, India’s Kalindee Rail Nirman (Engineers) Ltd, will be able to complete the work in time

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More than 70% work of the Kulaura-Shahbazpur Railway Reconstruction Project in Moulvibazar is still to be done even after several extensions of the deadline since it started on 10 August 2018.

The project was supposed to be completed by May 2020 but only 17% of work was completed until then. Later, the deadline was extended till December when 30% was completed.

Lastly, it was aimed to finish the project by 2022. Unfortunately, there has been little progress in the last six months this year. 

As works are progressing at a snail's pace, it has raised concerns about whether or not the contractor, India's Kalindee Rail Nirman (Engineers) Ltd, will be able to complete the work in time.

According to the Planning Commission, this rail project will connect Bangladesh with India, the regional railway network and the trans-Asian railway network, which will expand regional trade and tourism. Five trains will run from Kulaura to Shahbazpur. In addition to local trains, intercity trains will also run.

Railway sources said the Kulaura-Shahbazpur railway was inaugurated on 4 December 1896 during British rule. It was connected with the Indian state of Assam. A train called Latur used to run between Kulaura and Shahbazpur. 

However, for lack of budget and regular maintenance, the railway became unusable. The 106-year-old railway line was closed on 7 July 2002, showing frequent train accidents and its dilapidated condition as reasons.

After the closure, all the activities of six railway stations – Baralekha, Muraul, Juri, Dakshinbhag, Kanthaltali and Shahbazpur – have stopped. Consequently, transportation cost has increased as bus fares are higher. People started various movements demanding the resumption of trains through rallies, processions, human chains, sit-ins, etc under the banner of various organisations.

After 2010, India and Bangladesh took the initiative to reopen the closed line to increase freight transport and regional trade. The project was approved at the meeting of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on 26 May 2015. The approved project worth Tk678 was later revised to Tk544 crore.

The works include 52.54 kilometres of the railway line – 44.77 kilometres of mainline and 7.77 kilometres of loop line – from Kulaura Railway Station to Shahbazpur Zero Point, and the construction of six stations and 59 bridge culverts.

The Government of Bangladesh bears 25% of the project cost and borrows 75% from Exim Bank of India. Balaji Railroad Systems Ltd of India is working as a consultant for the project.

Reconstruction will be done on dual gauge single line by new rail and PC sleepers. Six station buildings (four B-class and two D-class) and platforms will be constructed or reconstructed. Of the 59 railway bridges, 17 major bridges and 42 minor bridges will be constructed and rebuilt. A non-interlocked colour light signalling system will be installed too.

The total cumulative expenditure of the project till June 2020 was Tk112.42 crore. Of this, Tk12.65 crore was spent from government funds and Tk99.78 crore from loans. In 2020-21, Tk61 crore was allocated for this project in the Annual Development Programme, as per a meeting of the project steering committee on 13 September last year.

A visit to the Kulaura-Shahbazpur Railway Rehabilitation Project site reveals that the work is completely stopped. 

Seeking anonymity, an officer said the work had slowed down due to Covid-19 and works are stuck for the last few months. However, some works, including removing old railway lines and elevating the railway line land by putting soils, have been done.

Railway authorities are evicting the illegal structures in the Juri part. All installations including old buildings and platforms of Shahbazpur, Baralekha, Muraul, Dakshinbhag stations have been demolished. However, work on new buildings, platforms and installations have not yet begun, he added.

The field-level officials of Kalindee Railway did not want to comment on the progress of the project. They said the project director and others concerned can speak well about the overall issues including the progress of the work.

Deputy Assistant Engineer Jewel Hossain, who is in charge of overseeing the project, said, "The first wave of Covid-19 had stopped work for several months. Currently, the pace of work has slowed down again in the second wave of the virus. I hope the work will be completed within the deadline, December 2022.

He added that project cost has not increased and it may not increase in the future if nothing new is added.

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