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বাংলাদেশে এক বিলিয়ন ডলার বিনিয়োগ করতে চায় ফেসবুক

 ট্রিবিউন ডেস্ক

 প্রকাশিত ০৯:২৫ রাত আগস্ট ২৫, ২০২১

বাংলাদেশের ডিজিটাল অবকাঠামো খাতে এক বিলিয়ন ডলার বা ৮ হাজার কোটি টাকা বিনিয়োগের আগ্রহ প্রকাশ করেছে ফেসবুক

সামাজিক যোগাযোগ মাধ্যম ফেসবুক বাংলাদেশের ডিজিটাল অবকাঠামো খাতে এক বিলিয়ন ডলার বা ৮ হাজার কোটি টাকা বিনিয়োগের আগ্রহ প্রকাশ করেছে। এ তথ্য নিশ্চিত করেছেন ডাক ও টেলিযোগাযোগ মন্ত্রী মোস্তাফা জব্বার।

বুধবার (২৫ আগস্ট) অনলাইন গণমাধ্যম বাংলা ট্রিবিউনের এক প্রতিবেদনে এ কথা জানানো হয়েছে।

এক বিলিয়ন ডলার বিনিয়োগের বিষয়ে জানতে চাইলে বাংলা ট্রিবিউনকে মন্ত্রী বলেন, তারা ডিজিটাল অবকাঠামোর কথা বলেছেন। আমরা তাদের আগ্রহকে স্বাগত জানাই। ফেসবুক বিভিন্ন দেশে এ ধরনের বিনিয়োগ করে থাকে। তাদের আগ্রহের তালিকায় বাংলাদেশের নাম রয়েছে। তার মানে ফেসবুক বাংলাদেশকে গুরুত্ব দিয়ে ভাবছে।

মোস্তাফা জব্বার বলেন, ফেসবুক আগে বাংলাদেশকে গুরুত্ব দিত না। এখন তারা ভ্যাট দেয়। বিনিয়োগ করতে চায়। তারা বাংলাদেশকে গুরুত্ব দিচ্ছে। তথ্য চাইলে সহযোগিতা করছে। ফেসবুক বাংলাদেশের দিক থেকে মুখ ঘুরিয়ে নিচ্ছে না।

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Ariful Islam Mithu & Foisal Ahmed

25 August, 2021, 10:40 pm

Last modified: 26 August, 2021, 09:28 am

Country’s most productive Gazipur blighted by nightmarish road

Experts say the project was based on a poor feasibility study



Vehicles stand still in traffic congestions on the Dhaka-Gazipur highway. The government took up the Bus Rapid Transit project in 2012 to ease traffic congestion on the highway but the project is yet to be completed. Photo: Salahuddin Ahmed

Stylish Garments Limited Chairman Salauddin Chowdhury – one of the leading garment factory owners of the country – had scheduled a meeting with a US buyer at his factory in Gazipur on a fine morning recently.

However, the buyer changed his mind because of the traffic congestion on the Dhaka-Gazipur highway. As a result, Salauddin had to book a five-star hotel in the capital's Gulshan area for the meeting.

"Had he gone to my factory, we could have shown him the compliances," said Salauddin.

For over 4,500 factories in Gazipur industrial hub close to Dhaka city, work on a major road infrastructure has turned into a cause of woes. Apart from disrupting entire supply chains for industries, it is causing immense suffering to regular commuters.    


The government took up the country's first bus rapid transit project (BRT-3) in 2012 to ease traffic congestion on the Dhaka-Gazipur highway. The project was supposed to end in 2016 but has hit a snag.

But traffic congestion on the highway now seems unending as the under-construction BRT-3 is running five years behind schedule.

Experts say the project was based on a poor feasibility study, requiring repeated changes in designs to correct the faults during implementation and causing a delay.

The initial estimated project cost of Tk2,039.84 crore more than doubled to Tk4,268 crore, though the progress stood at 61% in July.


Business feeling the pinch

Apart from the apparel industry, many business conglomerates like Beximco and Pran-RFL Group have also set up industrial parks in Gazipur. The government also is setting up Sreepur Economic Zone and Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City in the city to attract foreign investment.

Three mobile phone assembling plants of Oppo, Xiaomi and Techno in Gazipur.

The 20.5-kilometre bus rapid transit has been under construction for the last nine years, narrowing the Dhaka-Gazipur highway to a great extent.

The highway is dilapidated in many parts and remains jam-packed most of the time, discouraging foreign buyers and company executives from factory visits.

Many Chinese officials of the phone assembling plants who come to Gazipur from the Uttara area every day complain that they have to spend a significant amount of time daily while coming to work and going back home.

The rickety road is disrupting transportation of raw materials to and finished goods from factories, adding to production cost and time.

Sometimes, garment factory owners are also close to missing the shipment deadlines because of delays on the road. Many factories work the whole night to make up the time.

The traffic congestion on the highway also causes suffering to factory workers.

Businessmen have suggested that the implementing agencies of the bus rapid transit work at night too to speed up the construction work.


Photo: Salahuddin Ahmed

Naquib Khan, director for corporate affairs at Nestle Bangladesh, a multinational company, said running a business organisation in Gazipur is being thrown into disorder in different ways due to the intense traffic jam and the dusty environment.

He said even though their factory is in Gazipur, most of their employees come from Dhaka every day.

"I have to spend around four hours every day to reach the office. The journey to work is a serious mental stress. Besides, there is the loss of working hours," said Nakib Khan.

Gazipur City Corporation Mayor Mohammad Zahangir Alam said local people and businessmen have had to incur a loss of around Tk96,000 crore over the last eight years of prolonged development work.

"Tens of thousands of cargo vehicles, buses as well as non-motorised vehicles ply on the road every day, but the service lanes are insufficient," said Mayor Zahangir Alam.

Economists consider the extra costs of business caused by the construction work-induced traffic congestion.

"People have been forced to bear the huge amount of hidden cost, but no one cares about it," said Zahid Hussain, former lead economist at the World Bank's Dhaka office.


Photo: Salahuddin Ahmed

The perennial pain

Every day, tens of thousands of people have to travel between Dhaka and Gazipur for work and business.

Sazzadur Rahman (35), a private firm employee who comes to Dhaka's Tejgaon from Gazipur Chowrasta every day, said, "It takes 3-4 hours to reach my office. I feel I am in a development trap."

Transport drivers and owners also are feeling the pinch.

Mohammad Alam, a driver working with Gazipur Paribahan that operates bus services from Dhaka to Gazipur, said he could make at least four trips a day in the past, but cannot make more than two trips daily nowadays. As a result, he has to earn less than before.

"Besides, the waste of time, we have to spend Tk500 more on fuel for each trip due to traffic congestion," said Mohammad Alam.


Photo: Salahuddin Ahmed

Transport owners said around 1,500 inter-district buses ply the Dhaka-Gazipur highway.

Almost the entire road is in poor condition, but the condition of the 3-kilometre area stretching from Tongi Bazar to Cherag Ali is the worst with numerous potholes.

Mohammad Nasir, owner of the Dhaka-Tangail bound Binimoy Paribahan, said, "Besides the fuel cost, the maintenance cost also has become almost double. As a result, our income has come down significantly."

Md Shawkat Ali Babul, joint secretary of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, said passengers are now avoiding buses due to huge jams on the road and showing interest in trains to come to Dhaka.

The Dhaka-Gazipur highway is nothing short of a nightmare for cargo vehicles, especially trucks and covered vans. To cope with additional fuel and maintenance costs, cargo vehicles owners have raised the fare.

Covered van owner Tofazzol Hossain Majumder said they used to charge Tk13,000-18,000 for freight to Chattogram, but the fare is Tk20,000-25,000 now.

"Huge time is being wasted nowadays," said Tofazzol.

Incomes of drivers and helpers, however, fell due to a drop in the number of trips.

"We could make a minimum of 20-25 trips to Chattogram every month, but now the number has come down to 12-15," said truck driver Mohammad Monir.

Law enforcers also have found it tough to keep the traffic in order.

Abdullah Al Mamun, deputy commissioner at Gazipur Metropolitan Police, said every day more than 10 vehicles become out of whack on the road, making their job harder.


Photo: Salahuddin Ahmed

Shifting responsibility

ASM Elias, project director of Roads and Highways part of the BRT-3 project, said the roads in his part (Tongi-Gazipur) are in good condition although the road has shrunk a little.

"I think the problem will be resolved soon as we are now working to make the road wider," said ASM Elias, adding, "The traffic congestion problem is happening on the Bangladesh Bridge Authority's part."

Admitting that traffic congestion has become heavier because of their work, Mohirul Islam Khan, project director for the BBA portion of the project, said the road has not been maintained for a long time.

Because the road is now under the BRT-3 project, the Department of the Roads and Highways is not paying attention to the decapitated condition of the road, he said, adding, on the other hand, the BRT-3 contractors do not do maintenance work because it is not mentioned in the contract.

Transport expert Professor Shamsul Hoque said Bangladesh is finding it difficult to complete a single project on time for a lack of efficient manpower and professionals, while Indonesia runs 12 such BRTs successfully.

He also observed that the government has taken the wrong decision of turning a national corridor like the Dhaka-Gazipur highway into a bus rapid transit to ease the traffic congestion.

"BRT is not supposed to be there. It is constructed in the heart of a city. Even the Revised Strategic Transport Plan does not recommend taking up a project like BRT-3 there," he continued.

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Mongla seaport enhances cargo-handling capacity

 SYFUL ISLAM | Published:  August 25, 2021 08:47:27 | Updated:  August 26, 2021 13:56:43


The Mongla port has attained the capacity to handle gearless vessels as it procured necessary equipment, including heavy-duty cranes.

The port authority in a recent notification said that it has procured a good number of cargo and container-handling equipment to enhance the capacity of the country's second seaport.

The port recently installed four mobile harbour cranes and two multipurpose mobile cranes in its jetties.

Earlier, the port had been handling only the geared vessels for lack of required equipment.

"Now Mongla port can handle gearless ships up to twelve rows of containers," according to the notification.

Contacted on Tuesday, Mongla Port Authority Chairman Rear Admiral Mohammad Musa said the procurement of these cranes has increased the port capability significantly.

"We hope to be able to load and unload containers and cargos of any size with these new cranes," he said.

Mr Musa said the port authority has taken a project for extension and modernisation of facilities under which a total of 75 equipment will be bought gradually. "These cranes are a part of that project."

"With the new cranes, I will be able to handle an increased number of ships and the turnaround time will be lesser," he added.

The Mongla port's container and cargo handling capacity remained under utilised due to the unwillingness of businesses.

Moreover, the large vessels cannot approach the jetties due to lower draft which is another reason behind under utilisation of the capacities, according to officials.

Last year, the port authority completed dredging of the outer bar of the port to deepen the draft, facilitating the vessels with a 9.5-metre draft to anchor there.

Currently, a project worth Tk 7.94 billion is in progress to dredge the inner bar of the port so that the vessels of 9.5- metre draft can anchor in the jetties like that of the Chattogram port.

The port officials expected that once the dredging project is completed, the handling of cargoes and containers would increase significantly.

Besides, they said that once the Padma Bridge opens for traffic, the businesses would be interested in the port as the travel time to the capital will reduce.

In fiscal year 2020-21, the port handled 43,959 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of containers compared to 59,476 TEUs in the previous fiscal.

The port handled a total of 11.94 million tonnes of cargos in FY 2020-21, up from 11.03 million tonnes in the previous fiscal year.

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3 key fast-track projects near end

IMED report finds Padma Bridge, Payra Port, MRT-6 faring well but several others witnessing slow implementation

Rejaul Karim Byron

Thu Aug 26, 2021 12:00 AM


Padma Bridge, Payra Port and Dhaka Metro Rail-6 are among the fast-track projects nearing completion, whereas several others are witnessing a slower than expected implementation rate, according to a progress report.  

The Padma Multipurpose Bridge project, the largest bridge infrastructure in Bangladesh, had financial progress of 85.74 per cent and physical progress of 87.25 per cent as of July this year, said the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) in the report.

On Monday, the Bangladesh Bridge Authority finished the installation of all road slabs, linking both sides of the river through the roadway.

The Tk 30,190 crore bridge, whose physical works started in November 2014, was scheduled to complete in June. It is now expected to open to the public in June next year.

The deadline has been extended to finish the remaining work to construct the main bridge and carry out the river training. 

The physical progress of Payra Port, the third seaport in Bangladesh, stood at 82.56 per cent. The port, located in Kalapara under Patuakhali, is scheduled to be complete by June 2022. 

The Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development Project clocked a 71.33 per cent implementation rate for its MRT-6, involving Tk 21,985 crore. The IMED called for strengthening monitoring to accelerate the execution.

One of the fast-track projects, the Maitri Super Thermal Power Plant, a joint venture of the Bangladesh Power Development Board and NTPC Ltd of India, saw physical progress of 68.85 per cent and financial progress of 69.20 per cent.

About Tk 11,071 crore out of the total project cost of Tk 16,000 crore has been spent so far. The project is building a 1,320-megawatt (MW) power plant in Rampal of Bagerhat.

Another coal-powered electricity plant with a capacity of 1,200MW is being constructed in Matarbari, Moheshkhali. The cumulative physical and financial progress of the Tk 35,984 crore project was 49 per cent.

The deadline for the project, which is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, is June 2023.

The Rooppur nuclear power plant, backed by Russia, recorded a progress of 37.99 per cent.

The government has allocated Tk 18,426 crore for the project from the annual development programme (ADP) in the current fiscal year. The project, set to be constructed by 2025, will cost Tk 113,092 crore.

The IMED, which visited the project in March this year, has recommended accelerating the expenditure of the portion of the government and becoming more tactful and agile in formulating annual work plans and procurement plans with a view to speeding up its implementation.

The Dohazari-Cox's Bazar-Gundum rail line posted 32.22 per cent financial progress and 61 per cent physical progress as of July.

The IMED suggested placing the highest importance on completing the project by June 2022.

The Padma Bridge Rail Link project had 46.64 per cent financial progress and 43 per cent physical progress.

The IMED report said the Chinese and local workers were working in full swing despite the coronavirus pandemic. It asked the Bangladesh Railway, the implementing agency, to formulate month-wise work plans and implement them accordingly. 

The MRT Line-1, running from Shah Jalal International Airport to Kamalapur, attained progress of 1.5 per cent for the Tk 52,561 crore project. The deadline is December 2026.

The achievement is 3.11 per cent of the Tk 41,238 crore MRT-5 project, which runs from Hemayetput to Bhatara in the capital, as the implementing agency, state-run Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd, managed to spend Tk 1,281 crore as of July.

The total cost is Tk 41,238 crore, and the deadline is 2028.

The MRT-6 from Uttara Third Phase to Motijheel recorded 71.33 per cent financial progress as of July.

Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority is implementing the project at Tk 21,985 crore. It has spent Tk 15,683 crore so far.

The overall implementation progress of the mega projects is 57.56 per cent, said Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in his budget speech in June.

Tk 51,321 crore has been allocated to 14 mega projects, which included the fast-track projects that accounted for 22.8 per cent of the ADP in FY22.

Eight out of 14 mega projects are scheduled to be completed in FY22. But none of these projects has received the required allocation for completion in FY22, not even the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project, said the Centre for Policy Dialogue in a paper in June.     

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27 August, 2021, 03:15 pm

Last modified: 27 August, 2021, 04:02 pm

ADB okays $1.78 billion for Dhaka-Sylhet trade corridor



The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday approved a $1.78 billion multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) to improve mobility, road safety, and regional trade along the Dhaka-Sylhet trade corridor in Bangladesh.

The SASEC Dhaka-Sylhet Corridor Road Investment Project will be delivered in four tranches, according to the global lender.

The $400 million first tranche of the MFF will help finance the initial works of the major contracts for the widening of about 210 km of National Highway 2 along the Dhaka-Sylhet corridor from two to four lanes. It will include 60 km of footpath, 26 foot bridges, and 13 overpasses.

Its design will have features responsive to the needs of the elderly, women, children, and the differently abled, as well as disaster and climate risks.

The government will fund $911 million of the total project cost of $2.69 billion. Apart from the MFF, ADB will also provide a $1 million technical assistance grant from its Technical Assistance Special Fund and an additional $2 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, financed by the Government of Japan, to support capacity building of the Roads and Highways Department on road safety and maintenance, climate change, and gender equality and social inclusion.

The Dhaka-Sylhet corridor, once complete, will support a new trade route connecting Chattogram port with India's northeastern states through the three land ports of Akhaura, Sheola, and Tamabil, and from there to Bhutan and Myanmar.

The corridor is also the centerpiece of the Bangladesh government's planned Northeast Bangladesh Economic Corridor, which aims to promote key industries in the area, such as energy generation and production of construction materials, and to better integrate them with the rest of the economy in the country.

ADB Transport Specialist for South Asia Satomi Sakaguchi said that Bangladesh's export-driven economic growth has shown its unique potential of becoming a regional transport and trade hub. To sustain this growth, the country's transport infrastructure needs to be improved.

"The project is the main part of Road Corridor 5 under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) programme. Its improvement will reduce logistics costs, increase competitiveness, and help expand regional trade with neighbouring South Asian countries, apart from providing safe accessibility to the community members."

"By doing so, the investment project will contribute to the government's goal of achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development," he said.

Transport and trade facilitation are among the priorities of SASEC members, which since 2001, have invested more than $14.3 billion in projects in the region, including 43 transport projects worth $11.4 billion.

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Saifuddin Saif

27 August, 2021, 10:45 pm

Last modified: 28 August, 2021, 09:54 am

Govt mulls partnership with DP World for Gazipur railway ICD

The project could cost up to $300 million, says the railways authorities



The inland container depot (ICD) project in Gazipur's Dhirashram area is finally going to be implemented under the public-private partnership (PPP) model as the government is considering making Dubai-based terminal operator DP World a partner in the venture.

Officials of the Public Private Partnership Authority Bangladesh said DP World has already agreed to work on the project. Now, discussion is going on to fix the terms and conditions of the final agreement.

Dr Najmus Sayadat, director (investment promotion) of PPP Authority, said, "We are preparing a document for DP World, which may take six months. The investment of DP World will be finalised based on the document."

The ICD will be built on a 160-acre site near Dhirashram Railway Station in Joydevpur, Gazipur.

According to Bangladesh Railway, the cost of the project could be up to $300 million. Once it is complete, the Kamalapur ICD will be relocated to Dhirashram.

This is expected to help container transport by rail go up by as high as 30%.

In July 2013, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the project aimed at building a full-fledged ICD under PPP.

Finding no suitable private investor, Bangladesh Railway in August 2020 decided to construct Dhirasram ICD with government funds.

In December last year, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) pledged $200 million in loans for the project and in January this year, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) decided to implement the project through ADB funding.

But in March, the PMO changed its stance and decided to build the ICD in collaboration with DP World under the $1 billion investment proposal the firm had made in the beginning of 2020. The company wanted to invest the money in Bangladesh's container supply chain infrastructure, including ports, rail network and inland container terminals.

The government's latest decision was taken in view of the technical expertise of DP World in the construction and operation of port and container terminals, according to officials concerned.

DP World is a multinational logistics company based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It specialises in cargo logistics, port terminal operations, maritime services and free trade zones.

The company will also build one of the three terminals in Chattogram port under PPP arrangements. To this end, it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the PPP authorities in March this year.

Meanwhile, the government has undertaken another project involving an estimated cost of Tk3,473 crore for land acquisition and construction of a six-kilometre rail link for the Dhirashram ICD.

The railway expects to start the project this year with government funding.

SM Salimullah Bahar, chief planning officer of Bangladesh Railway, said, "The construction of the proposed multi-modal transit hub at Kamalapur Station, starting station of high-speed train in the Dhaka-Chattogram corridor and the Padma Rail Link will start from Kamalapur ICD. As a result, the government decided to set up a full-fledged ICD in Dhirashram with uninterrupted facilities for handling and transporting goods."

He said the capacity of the Kamalapur ICD is 90,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).

"Around 80% of the containers from Chattogram port are transported towards Dhaka. Only 10% of this bulk is transported by rail. We are planning to increase the railway container transport to 30%," said Salimullah.

"The container capacity of the Kamalapur ICD will soon be exceeded. For this reason, the government has decided to shift the Kamalapur ICD to Dhirashram. This will increase the container transport of railways at a significant rate. At the same time, railways' revenue will also increase," he further said.

According to PPP authorities, the handling capacity ‍of the proposed ICD is 3,54,000 TEUs. The railway authorities will acquire 222.46 acres of land for the ICD and 6km connecting rail tracks.

The Bangladesh Railway is forming a new company named Container Company Bangladesh Limited (CCBL) to encourage traders to transport goods by rail.

The company will transport goods from warehouses and port to the station.

Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association Vice-president Mohammad Hatem told The Business Standard, "The ICD in Kamalapur should have been shifted out of Dhaka long ago. If this is done, the pressure on Dhaka will be reduced. It will also reduce container congestion. Moreover, most of our factories are based in Gazipur-Tongi areas. The ICD in Dhirashram will benefit importers and exporters."

Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries (DCCI) President Rizwan Rahman, however, thinks PPP projects are slow in implementation which can increase the expenditure.

Rizwan thinks the Dhirashram ICD should be built on the funding of ADB to reduce time and cost.

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Saudi wants to invest in BJMC’s closed jute mills


TBS report

25 August, 2021, 05:35 pm

Last modified: 25 August, 2021, 08:47 pm

Textile and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi said that Saudi Arabia is keen to invest in Bangladesh to operate Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) 's closed jute mills.

Saudi Arabia ambassador to Bangladesh Essa Yussef Essa Al Dulaihan on Wednesday meet with the Textile and Jute Minister of Bangladesh at the secretariat building. Secretary of the Ministry, Mohammad Abdul Mannan was also present at that time, reads a press release issued by Saikat Chandra Halder, public relations officer of the Ministry

Essa Yussef Essa Al Dulaihan said, "Saudi Arabia sincerely believes that Bangladesh is their friendly country. So, Saudi wants to invest in Bangladesh' Textile and Jute sector to boost economy and business of the sector,"

Textile and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi told Saudi Arabia ambassador to Bangladesh that Bangladesh also sincerely believes Saudi Arabia as a friendly country.

The Minister hopes that Saudi will invest more in Bangladesh's Textile and Jute sector.

The minister assured Saudi Arabia ambassador to Bangladesh that Bangladesh produces the best quality jute in the world and produces high quality and attractive versatile products from this jute.  Jute products are completely environmentally friendly.

Demand for jute-made products has grown significantly as a result of recent environmental awareness in Saudi Arabia. Versatile jute products are exported to different countries of the world including Saudi Arabia.

Bangladesh wants to export more versatile jute products to Saudi Arabia in the future, the minister hoped.

Jute is second only to cotton in the world's production of textile fibers. Bangladesh, India, China, and Thailand are the leading producers of jute, which is also produced in southeast Asia and Brazil. 

The BJMC official website says it inherited as many as 73 jute mills, having 23,836 looms, at the time of Bangladesh's liberation in 1971. But over the years, while private-run jute industries have witnessed some success, the state-run ones have faltered, resulting in a sorry state of affairs in the public sector jute industry.

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Tapping the potential of railway

 Shihab Sarkar   | Published:  August 28, 2021 21:46:57 | Updated:  August 28, 2021 21:53:13

Many middle-aged and elderly people can recall the travels in 'Inter Class' railway carriages. This 'class' has long been abolished. According to experts in the Sub-continental railway journeys, this class was introduced by the British rulers. It was meant for the native or 'kala sahibs', people who were above the plebeian masses, but couldn't earn the capability to travel with the 'gora sahibs' sitting in the same train bogey.A large number of the middle-class railway travellers used to undertake their journeys in the Inter Class in the British colonial times. This funny class was abolished during the last days of the Pakistani rule. In independent Bangladesh, many people with moderately high income could afford to travel in the 'Second Class', with a lot of the rich passengers travelling in the 'First Class'. If the inside of a bogey remains clean, especially the toilets, and roomy, a railway journey inside a Third Class could also be as enjoyable as that inside a 'Second Class'. These days the trains operated by the Bangladesh Railway have a lot of broadly divided classes. They include AC Chair Class, Snigdha, Shobhon and Sulov classes etc.

But the point is, while on a railway journey a scrupulous passenger doesn't attach much importance to the 'class' he or she has boarded, as they do on the trains' capability to reach their destinations on time. They also keep in consideration the imperative of safety. In the present Bangladesh, the railway journeys are relatively safer than road transport. But how long they will have the capability to operate free of unpredictable hazards is a question worth pondering. The print media continue to report about the decaying process of the railway. The latest of such gloomy reports says the railway these days is dependent on rundown locomotives. It has been identified that 175 out 263 engines are over-aged. Moreover, 78 of them are more than 50 years old. The information is highly alarming. That the trains in the country are mostly operated by nearly-ramshacklelocomotives sounds weird. It's because around 7,000 stations are served by scores of inter-city, express and local trainsmanoeuvred by these locomotives.

Since its opening on Kolkata-Kushtia line in 1862, railway travel in the eastern part of Bengal continued to expand without any long gap. With the inclusion of Goalundo Ghat bringing Narayanganj under the travel's range through steamer, and later connecting Dhaka with a short-distance rail route, the eastern Bengal found itself in its railway era. The Narayanganj-Dhaka passenger rail service began in 1886, being a part of the route that reached up to Mymensingh. In fact, contrary to the present state of semi-stalemate in the Bangladesh railway services, viz. travels, this mode of transport began progressing spectacularly in the independent Bangladesh.The 24-year Pakistan era remained concentrated on the Dhaka-Chattogram line only. That the routes once connected Dhaka with the southern, northern and north-eastern parts remained out of the knowledge of Pakistan Railway's policymakers. The eastern part of Bengal could be defined as quite fortunate. It saw its maiden railway service on the Darshana-Jagoti line in greater Kushtia back in 1861. The 33-mile (53.11km) broad gauge passenger route served as the pioneering railway track in East Bengal.

In the history of railway in Bengal, the merger of Bengal Railway Company and Assam Bengal Railway in 1905 emerged as a watershed event. In fact, the growth of the present railway network in independent Bangladesh is chiefly based on this critical merger. Many blame the dearth of pragmatism and foresight for the Bangladesh Railway's faltering growth.The thought that a great future lies ahead of the country's railway has kept eluding the authorities over the last five decades. The long-distance rail travellers have continued being weaned off by the inter-district and inter-city bus services. The authorities are little bothered.

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PM inaugurates Cox's Bazar Airport runway upgradation works

Published:  August 29, 2021 11:44:12

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday unveiled the foundation stone of the runway extension project of Cox's Bazar Airport, aiming to enable it to offer a longer range of domestic and international passenger services.

The Prime Minister inaugurated the construction work on the maritime runway, the first of its kind in Bangladesh, virtually from her official residence Ganobhaban, reports UNB. 

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) has taken the Tk 1,568.86 crore project to construct the country’s longest runway by extending the existing 9,000-foot runway by another 1,700 on the Bay of Bengal by reclaiming land from the sea.

Upon completion of the US$ 185 million project, all types of large aircraft will be able to take off and land on the maritime runway.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) signed a deal with the Chinese joint venture of Changjiang Yichang Waterway Engineering Bureau (CYWEB) and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) on February 9, 2021 to implement the crucial project.

Though the deadline to complete the construction of the project is May 10, 2024, steps have been taken to complete it by the end of 2023.

With the implementation of the project, the existing 9,000ft runway will be extended by 1,700 ft towards the Maheshkhali Channel.

On completion, the new 10,700-foot runway will allow much larger and wide-bodied aircraft like Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 747-400 to use the airport, paving the way for the smooth operation of international flights.

The government in 2019 took the initiative to expand the runway to upgrade it to international standards and offer foreign holidaymakers the hassle-free trips to the world's longest unbroken sea beach.

The runway extension will be built by filling some parts of the sea on the Maheshkhali channel.

At first geo tubes will be placed under the sea bed and then water will be removed through dredging. Later, the excavation process and sand filling activities will start.

Then, the excavated area will be layered with sand, followed by concrete blocks being placed. The next phase would be the sand layer layout for the runway.

There will then be a final layering process and pitch casting. This will create a runway and a dam to protect it from the sea. This will be followed by the decoration of the runway and installation of indicator lights.

State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali, Secretary of the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry Md Mokammel Hossain and Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman were present on the dais at the Cox’s Bazar Airport.

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Bangladesh govt to open three major infrastructures for public next year

 FE ONLINE REPORT | Published:  August 29, 2021 12:38:01

The government of Bangladesh is going to make three high-value infrastructure projects operational by the end of the next year.

Of them, the Padma Bridge will be opened for the public in June 2022, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader told a function on Sunday.

The Karnaphuli Bangabandhu Tunnel and Metro Rail will be inaugurated in December 2022.

The minister made the disclosure while addressing Obaidul Quader aaid while inaugurating the test run of MRT 6 at depot.

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Jahidul Islam

29 August, 2021, 09:45 am

Last modified: 29 August, 2021, 10:59 am

Marine Drive to widen to boost tourism, agri

The width of the first 32km stretch of the road will be increased to 7.3m from 3.7m



The government is going to develop the Cox's Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive by increasing the width of a 32km stretch from 3.7m to 7.3m, an effort to boost the local economy by attracting tourists and agro investments. 

Besides, new bridges will be constructed on the road and its various defects will be repaired.

Running through the world's longest beach on one side and green hills on the other, the Marine Drive is playing a vital role in the local economy, including the tourism and agriculture sectors.

However, various defects in the 80km road have been causing traffic congestions and accidents since its inauguration. 

It is also at risk of severe damage due to natural calamities, including sea erosion.

The Road Transport and Highways Division has already sent a proposal to the Planning Commission for a Tk1,021.61 crore project titled "Cox's Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive Road Widening" to develop a 32km stretch of the road in the first phase.

But the Project Evaluation Committee (PEC) of the commission at a recent meeting recommended revising the proposal. 

The PEC meeting chaired by Mamun Al Rashid, a member of the Physical Infrastructure Division of the Planning Commission, reviewed the allocations for various sectors, including foreign tour, road survey, consultant recruitment, land filling, geotextile, etc. 

The proposed cost of the project to increase the width of the 32km stretch is around 132% of the construction cost of the whole road.

The Planning Commission raised questions about the proposed allocations for various sectors, including foreign tour, survey, consultancy, land acquisition, land filling, etc. 

The project proposal has asked for an allocation of Tk523 crore for acquiring 123 acres of land.

It has also asked for Tk28.75 crore for land filling, Tk9.65 crore for different road-related services, Tk28.35 crore for geotextile, Tk58 crore for retaining walls, and Tk64.80 crore for tetrapods.

But the PEC meeting proposed reducing some of the allocations, including cancelling foreign tours that would cost Tk1.1 crore, considering the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mamun said the Marine Drive has great potential for the development of tourism and agro-based economy in Cox's Bazar. 

"If this potential is to be realised, the road must be protected from future damage. Apart from that, the road has some serious defects. As a result, it is necessary to increase its width and repair all the defects." 

The project proposal will be presented to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) for final approval after revision. 

After the Ecnec approval, the Bangladesh Army will implement it along with the Roads and Highways Department (RHD).


An aerial view shows the marine drive from Cox’s Bazar to Teknaf. The government is going to increase the width of the road from 3.7m to 7.3m. The photo was taken recently. Photo: Md Repon Bhuiyan

Road built in 25 years

According to the planning ministry, the Engineering Construction Brigade (ECB) of the Bangladesh Army started constructing the Marine Drive in 1993. 

The work was handed over to the RHD in July next year.

The project was later approved by the Ecnec in 2000 to be implemented jointly by the ECB and the RHD. 

However, in the fiscal year 2004-05, the authorities decided to implement the project in three phases.

In the first phase, Tk93.7 crore was spent on building a 24km road from Kalatali to Inani. The work on this section was completed in June 2008.

In June 2016, the work on the 24km road from Inani to Shilkhali was completed at a cost of Tk474.68 crore. 

The remaining 32km stretch from Shilkhali to Teknaf was completed in June 2018 at a cost of Tk203.06 crore.

The road's construction in three phases was completed at a cost of Tk771.51 crore.

Benefits and defects 

According to a report of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) published in 2018-19, traffic volume on the road had increased by 104% per annum. 

It said 3,173 vehicles were running on the road every day in 2017, but the number increased to 9,770 in 2019.

Public and private investments in tourism-related sectors in the project area increased after the road was completed. 

This created employment opportunities as well as increased earnings of the people in the region, the IMED said.

The agency found that the number of people earning Tk10,000 or more per month in the project area had increased by 21% compared to the surrounding areas. 

The unemployment rate had also come down from 17% to 13%.

According to the report, the road has reduced travel time from Cox's Bazar to Teknaf by one and a half hours. 

As a result, the number of tourists in Cox's Bazar has increased. 

Shrimp production has also increased due to the opportunity to transport shrimp fries from hatcheries within a short space of time. 

Besides, agricultural productivity has increased as farmlands have been protected from flooding and salinity. 

The IMED report also found some defects in the project's implementation.

It said the road from Kalatali beach to Bailey Hatchery is isolated from the Marine Drive. 

As a result, large vehicles cannot go to the Marine Drive from Cox's Bazar. 

The IMED found that traffic is disrupted in the one-lane Rezu Canal area on the road, and accidents often occur in the two risky turns before and after the canal.

It also said frequent accidents happen in the culvert built on the S-curve in the 32nd kilometre stretch of the road.

The report found structural errors in four of the seven inspected culverts built on the road.

The IMED said within just two years of construction, the road's shoulders and slopes had been damaged by rainwater and those in the 28th kilometre stretch are at risk of collapse due to their proximity to the sea.

In this regard, the representatives of the army at the PEC meeting said about a 9km stretch of the road had been damaged by sea waves.

The supervising engineer of the RHD's Chattogram zone said he had personally inspected the road. 

"Initiatives need to be taken now to protect the road from damage. Otherwise, much of it is likely to be lost to the sea soon."

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We want to make Bangladesh a global hub of connectivity, PM says

Published:  August 29, 2021 16:38:58 | Updated:  August 29, 2021 17:25:30

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said her administration plans to make Bangladesh a global hub of connectivity to reflect its geographical location by expanding aviation routes.

“We want to turn Bangladesh into a global hub of connectivity, to take advantage of its geographical location and financially benefit our country,” Hasina said, while inaugurating the extension work of Cox’s Bazar Airport runway via video conference on Sunday, reports bdnews24.com.

“The government is trying to expand international aviation routes from Bangladesh,” the prime minister said, adding that Bangladesh now has planes like “Dreamliners” to operate long-haul flights to New York, Toronto and Sydney.

“We also need to enhance our connectivity with countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Better connectivity with Southeast Asian countries will expand our trade and business.”

"We shouldn't focus only on Western countries, but also ensure that our Biman Bangladesh Airlines fly to other friendly nations in the future," she said.

Hasina said her government has been working to develop all airports in the country and has plans to do more in the future.

"We're planning to develop Saidpur Airport further and make it a regional airport so that neighbouring countries like Bhutan, Nepal and some Indian states can use it. Sylhet Airport is already an international airport, which can be used by different states in India including Meghalaya and Assam. Tripura and other Indian states can use Chattogram Airport, an international airport."

“This is how we plan to nurture regional cooperation and develop and modernise (our airports),” Hasina said.

She urged the Biman Bangladesh Airlines officials to run the enterprise with skill and integrity and ensure the airline maintains international standards, including on civil aviation security. She mentioned that the construction of the third terminal at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is continuing as part of modernisation work on the airport.

The Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was fond of Cox's Bazar and he always took his family there once a year for a vacation when he was not in prison, said Hasina, his daughter.

"We've a number of plans (for the airports), especially for Cox's Bazar. Cox's Bazar will be a major tourist location with all the amenities of a modern city and the world's longest natural sea beach. We'll develop Cox's Bazar further.”

"We have gathered here today for the expansion work on the runway at Cox's Bazar Airport. We want to expand it in such a way that enables the biggest planes to land here and refuel," Hasina said.

"We'll rebuild Cox's Bazar into a modern, international tourism centre, so everyone can come and enjoy the beauty of Bangladesh. And it will also bring us financial benefits."


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Emphasis on service sector’s involvement to attract British investment

 FE ONLINE REPORT | Published:  August 29, 2021 19:10:48 | Updated:  August 29, 2021 22:28:39


The service sector in Bangladesh can be an emerging area for attracting British investment, viewed speakers at a webinar on Sunday.

Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) organised the virtual dialogue titled `Bangladesh-UK trade and investment cooperation: service sector perspective’.

British High Commissioner in Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson participated in the dialogue as the chief guest.

DCCI President Rizwan Rahman, in his opening remarks, said the UK is a large trading partner of Bangladesh.

Bilateral trade is around $4.2 billion, said Mr Rizwan.

Bangladesh exported to the UK $3.751 billion of products in FY21 which is 8.63 per cent more than it was in FY20, informed Rahman.

“Our total FDI inflow was $2.370 billion in FY20 where service sector contributes 6.5 per cent”, said he.

He also requested the British government to ensure a liberal tariff and trading ecosystem to support investment in wide-ranging service sector in the new normal era.

Moreover, Rizwan Rahman requested UK Government to retain GSP facility for export growth in post-Brexit time until both countries agree for FTA to deepen economic fraternity.

British High Commissioner in Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson said the commercial relation between Bangladesh and UK is very good.

UK is the second largest investor in Bangladesh, Dickson said.

The Bangladeshi IT market would be an interesting market for UK, he said adding service sectors like finance, healthcare, education and technology would be some emerging sectors where the future lies.

Mr Dickson further suggested addressing the issues to improve in the ease of doing business index to attract more FDI.

Concerted efforts both from the government and private sector will boost bilateral trade opportunities, he mentioned.

The British High Commission will facilitate British venture capitalists looking at financial opportunities for the startups in Bangladesh.

Syed Almas Kabir, President, BASIS said the domestic market of IT/ITES is around $1.4 billion.

13 per cent of IT/ITES products from Bangladesh go to the UK, he informed.

Mr Kabir also said worldwide there is a big demand for IT graduates. At present more than 40 offshore development centres have started working in Bangladesh, he mentioned.

Bikarna Kumar Ghosh, Managing Director, Bangladesh High-Tech Park Authority said that eight high-tech parks are ready to accommodate investors. Bangladesh’s annual demand for new handsets is 35 million out of which local factories are supplying over 7.5 million.

160 companies have already invested in the high-tech parks creating employment opportunities for 21,079 people.

By the year 2025 around Tk 40 billion will be invested in high-tech parks.

Sonia Bashir Kabir, Founder and Managing Director, SBK Tech Ventures said venture capitals can look into Bangladesh where India raised 20 billion venture capital funding. Bangladeshi startups are very good and need investors.

DCCI Senior Vice President NKA Mobin, FCS, FCA gave the vote of thanks.

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29 August, 2021, 02:50 pm

Last modified: 29 August, 2021, 02:51 pm

China to help Bangladesh develop its infrastructure: Envoy


Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming on Sundaysaid China will continue supporting Bangladesh's infrastructure development, promoting cooperation to a higher level, and helping Bangladesh materialize its development dream.

China has the rich experience in infrastructure development and its construction efficiency and quality are among the best in the world, he said.

"I believe that under BRI, the prospects for cooperation between the two countries in the field of transportation infrastructure are very promising," said the Ambassador while delivering a pre-recorded speech at the second part of a function marking the formal inauguration of construction work of Cox's Bazar Airport's runway extension into Sea.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina virtually inaugurated it.

The Chinese Ambassador said the project is the key step that will promote Cox's Bazar to become an international metropolis.

On completion of the project, he said, all the giant aircraft will be able to take off and land on the coastal runway, and this will boost the development of the Cox's Bazar and neighbouring regions.

The Ambassador appreciated the project contractor - China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and Changjiang Yichang Waterway Engineering Bureau (CYWEB), and said in the past 40 years, both companies have been engaged in a large number of construction projects around the world.

"With its sound technical capacity and extensive experiences, I believe CCECC and CYWEB will fulfill its mission and deliver a satisfactory result to the Bangladeshi government and people by completing the project on time and with high quality," said Ambassador Jiming.

At the same time, he said, CCECC and CYWEB will surely contribute to the local people's livelihood by granting employment opportunities to the local workforces.

As one of the ENR-listed top 100 global contractors with a global business network in 105 countries and regions, CCECC dabbled into Bangladesh in the early 2000s.

CCECC is recently engaged in ADB-funded construction of new Dual Gauge Single Railway Line from Dohazari to Cox's Bazar via Ramu LOT-2 and is pursuing Joydevpur to Ishurdi Double Line Railway Project on G-G basis under the Bangladesh Railway.

CCECC officials said they are optimistic about opportunities ahead offered by the post-pandemic economic rebound in Bangladesh.

CCECC is to set up its South Asia Regional Office in Bangladesh and continue to contribute its international engineering and financing services to Bangladesh for contributing to the materialization of the Golden Bangla Dream, said the officials.

The Ambassador described Cox's Bazar as an attractive coastal city which he visited a couple of times. "It has long natural coastal lines and very beautiful scenery, it has the potential to become a world famous vacation resort to attract tourists from all over the world."

"Today is indeed a joyous day as the successful launching of this project marks a new level of cooperation in the transport infrastructure development sector between China and Bangladesh," he said, adding that it marks a milestone for Cox's Bazar Airport on its way to becoming an international airport. 

Ambassador Jiming said Bangladesh is the first country in South Asia to join the Belt and Road Initiative, known as "BRI", next to the decisive leadership and extraordinary vision of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, two countries have carried out comprehensive and successful cooperation under the BRI, particularly the field of infrastructure development.

As one of the key areas of China-Bangladesh cooperation, the Ambassador said, infrastructure connectivity lays a solid foundation for the in-depth development of Bangladesh-China bilateral relations.

"This project will for sure advance China-Bangladesh cooperation with regards to infrastructure development," he said.

Apparently inspired by Hong Kong International Airport, the government of Bangladesh has taken the runway expansion project at the Cox's Bazar Airport by reclaiming land from the sea.

Once completed, all types of large aircraft will be able to take off and land on the maritime runway, officials said.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) signed a deal with the CYWEB and CCECC on 9 February 2021 to implement the gigantic project.

The deadline to complete the construction of the project is 10 May 2024 but there will be efforts to do it faster than the stipulated time.

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Govt focuses on investment to fast-track economic growth: official document

Published:  August 29, 2021 18:59:25

The government is focusing on bigger investment, both local and foreign, to generate jobs and fast-track development to help the economy offset the adverse impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

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

To increase investment and generate employment, it said, steps have been taken to establish 100 Economic Zones across the country, which will provide employment opportunity.

Approval has already been issued for the establishment of 97 Economic Zones.

It said that production has already been begun in 9 Economic Zones and the development work in 28 Economic Zones is in progress, which can offer employment to around 40,000 employment seekers.

“In addition, employment opportunities for another 0.8 million people will be created,” the document added.

Till date, investment proposal worth US$ 27.07 billion from a total of 210 investors has been received in 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 planned and modern industrial zone.

Seminars-workshops, road-shows and trade shows are being organised and sponsored at home and abroad to attract investment.

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

On the other hand, the government is laying special emphasis on the implementation of projects under Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) 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 6 more projects are under implementation, reports UNB.

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 procurement of relevant solutions and software for automation has been completed.

 “It is expected that this will bring dynamism in the production and exports of all types of export-oriented industries.”

Meanwhile, the government has taken massive reforms 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 case of getting new electricity connection and improved access to credit information helped the country to level up by 8 notches.

The World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index is used to indicate how well the business environment of a country performs.

 “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 mentioned.

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

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

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 document expressed its hope.

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GFF to invest $10m in RMG factories

 FE REPORT | Published:  August 29, 2021 09:30:47 | Updated:  August 29, 2021 09:57:06

Global Fashion Fund (GFF) will initially invest US$10 million to finance local readymade garment (RMG) factories, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to ensure sustainable production.

To this effect, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and GFF on August 25 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aiming to support and strengthen the development and uptake of innovative sustainability solutions and particularly to improve environmental and social sustainability of the local factories, according to a statement.

BGMEA president Faruque Hassan and GFF Fund Director Bob Assenberg signed the MoU at a virtual ceremony on behalf of their respective organisations.

GFF will provide a long-term loan in addition to technical, environmental and social assistances to the manufacturers to ensure sustainable production, it added.

Launched by Laudes Foundation and Fashion for Good in 2019, Good Fashion Fund (www.goodfashionfund.com) is managed by Fund Manger FOUNT.

Through the joint efforts, GFF aims to invest US$ 10 million in readymade garment manufacturing companies in Bangladesh in the next two years out of its total targeted fund worth US$25 million.

The collaboration aims at giving the manufacturers an access to finance and help them in building a restorative and regenerative apparel supply chain that include the use of recyclable and safe materials, clean and less energy, closed-loop manufacturing and the creation of fair jobs and growth.

Talking at the event, BGMEA President Faruque Hassan said energy efficiency, renewable energy, carbon and water footprint reduction and circular economy have been the core areas of concern for BGMEA as long as sustainability and resilience are concerned.

So SMEs will have to invest in eco-friendly technologies, he added.

Expressing gratitude, he said the collaboration of the two organisations can be prolific to enhance the sustainability standard of the SMEs.

Mr Bob Assenberg said, "We are very excited about partnering with BGMEA and our joint support to apparel manufacturers in Bangladesh will become more sustainable."

They are committed to driving a positive change and good fashion practice in the apparel sector in Bangladesh and look forward to working with forward-looking SMEs in the country, he noted.

Explaining GFF vision, he said it aimed to invest in innovations that deliver both economic growth and good fashion practice for manufactures.

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Foisal Ahmed

30 August, 2021, 09:20 am

Last modified: 30 August, 2021, 10:29 am

Wider roads, clean air make residents happy after years of metro rail work

Local businesspeople are happy about the changed look of the roads and expect more customers in shops and restaurants now than before


The country's first overhead metro train on a performance test run from Uttara's Diabari to Pallabi on Sunday. Photo: Saad Abdullah

Rashida Akter had avoided the Mirpur 10-Agargaon road for more than two years for dust, traffic congestion and noise due to the construction work of the metro rail overhead. Two weeks ago, she was taken by surprise while driving past the area for urgent work. 

"The streets have widened with carpeting done. The shroud of dust seems to have gone. And beautification work is going on on the road divider under the metro rail track, which I feel will transform the look of the area completely," said Rashida, a resident of Sheorapara of Mirpur.  

Many people left the area having to spend hours in traffic jam in everyday commute, she said, adding that the bumpy rides because of potholes and air pollution had made things even worse. People showed a lack of interest in renting out houses by the metro rail project.

Now the comparatively clean air and smooth road are giving a sense of relief to the residents. 

Meanwhile, the first performance test of the country's first overhead metro train in the capital was carried out successfully from Uttara depot on Sunday. The train, consisting of six coaches, stopped at four stations on a route of more than six kilometers from Uttara North to Pallabi. The authorities want to begin the operation of the metro rail by December next year.

Soil has been prepared in the road dividers from Mirpur-10 to Kazipara for tree plantation while plantation work is going on from Agargaon to the Planning Commission at Sher-E-Bangla Nagar. Beautification work from Pallabi to Mirpur DOHS has been completed.

"We have begun beautification work where work on metro rail is completed. The roads have also been widened and repaired. I hope within a few months the roads from Mirpur-12 to Agargaon will also be adored with flowering trees," said MAN Siddique, managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited. 

Local businesspeople are happy about the changed look of the roads and expect more customers in shops and restaurants now than before. 

"I expect that more people will now visit the area and that will boost our sales," said Ahsan Ullah, owner of Arch Fashion at Mirpur-10.  

Abrar Hossen, owner of Eatery Restaurant, said sales of around 50 restaurants in the area had fallen sharply since the start of the metro rail construction work. 

"I now hope for better days to come." 

Buses and other vehicles can glide on the widened roads from Agargaon through to Mirpur-12. 

"Driving through such a smooth road is joyful," said Md Habib, driver of Mirpur 12-bound Bihanga Paribahan from Sadarghat. 

It used to take at least one hour to reach Agargaon from Mirpur 10 due to heavy traffic on narrow roads, but now the journey can be made in half that time, he said. 

Residents, however, are skeptical about the maintenance of the trees planted in the middle of the roads.

"We have seen that decorative work remains beautiful for sometime then withers away eventually," said a local resident, Ashraf Uddin.

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Nordic companies urged to invest in Bangladesh

‘Bangladesh Investor Booklet 2021’ launched

 FE ONLINE REPORT | Published:  August 30, 2021 14:32:47 | Updated:  August 30, 2021 16:50:13


Stakeholders at a virtual discussion urged the Nordic investors to take advantage of an improved business climate in Bangladesh, highlighting the reforms initiated by the government in recent times.

The discussion was organised to mark the launching of the “Bangladesh Investor Booklet 2021” on Sunday.

The Nordic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) in Bangladesh, in cooperation with the Royal Norwegian Embassy, the Embassy of Denmark and the Embassy of Sweden organised the programme, says a press release.

Describing Bangladesh as an attractive destination for Nordic investment, speakers also urged the Nordic investors to make investments in Bangladesh.

Addressing chief guest, Salman F Rahman, Private Sector Industry and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister, said, “The government realised that the country’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business can be better. In the past year, Bangladesh has been among the 10 top reformers in the world in the Ease of Doing Business Ranking done by the Work Bank. We are targeting that by 2022, we will have substantial and significant improvement in the ranking.”

He added that the ‘One Stop Service’ introduced by BIDA has been popular and more services are in the offing to attract investors.

Furthermore, the private sector growth will play an instrumental part in the growth of Bangladesh and the government will work towards facilitating investment, he said.

 He mentioned that the government is maintaining steady exchange rate, inflation and interest rate which are important economic indicators for foreign investment.

“Updating of the Company Act, Bankrupcy Act and Isurance Act, amongst others, will also positively impact FDI in the country”.

Md Sirazul Islam, Executive Chairman, BIDA congratulated NCCI on the publication of the Bangladesh Investment Booklet and remarked that it “effectively highlights the attractiveness of our economy, liberal investment regime, and unique sectoral opportunities."

“As the country's apex Investment promotion authority, BIDA will work closely with NCCI to attract more Nordic investments. We will also continue to ensure the smooth entry, operation, and growth of Nordic business in Bangladesh," he said.

Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, Chairman, National Board of Revenue, said “The National Board of Revenue is working tirelessly to assist all stakeholders, including foreign investors in Bangladesh. We are constantly updating and adopting digitisation to cater to the business community”.

“The economy is robust and stable, which makes it an attractive destination for Nordic investments. Additionally, the government has provided various incentives to promote investment and growth in the economy.”

Speaking on behalf of the Nordic Embassies in Bangladesh, the Norwegian Ambassador, Espen Rikter-Svendsen, said, “The numerous foreign investment success stories demonstrate that Bangladesh is indeed a land of business opportunities that can be seized with the right guidance.”

“It is my hope that this booklet will contribute towards minimising the gap and promote Bangladesh as an attractive investment destination for Nordic companies.”

NCCI President Tahrin Aman highlighted that the Nordic companies can contribute largely to the long-term sustainable growth of Bangladesh though FDI in infrastructure, sustainable agriculture, power, healthcare, telecommunication, manufacturing and finance, with a particular focus on innovation, green transition and climate sustainability.

He commended the work of the government of Bangladesh to implement the “Digital Bangladesh” of the Prime Minister which will take the country forwards achieving the middle-income status by 2024.

Among others, Md. Nazmul Islam, Bangladesh Ambassador to Sweden, Norway and Finland, Asif Khan, CEO, Edge Research and Consulting, Barrister Omar H Khan, Managing Partner, Legal Counsel and Snehasish Barua, Founding Partner, Snehasish Mahmud & Co, took part in the discussion.

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AIIB to review Bangladesh projects for quicker execution

 FHM HUMAYAN KABIR | Published:  August 31, 2021 08:23:51 | Updated:  August 31, 2021 08:41:29



The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), new-generation development financier, is set to review Bangladesh projects shortly for speeding up execution by removing bottlenecks.

Officials said Monday the Economic Relations Division (ERD) would arrange the tripartite meeting where project directors and relevant line-ministry officials for the AIIB-funded ongoing and proposed projects will be present.

A joint secretary at the ERD said the meeting is expected to be held on September 9 aiming mainly to expedite execution and fund release and eliminate hurdles in the way of implementation of the projects funded by the bank, pioneered by China.

"We want to sit with the Beijing-based lender in a bid to resolve problems that emerged after the launch of the projects. Besides, we will also discuss the proposed projects requested for funding from the AIIB," the official added.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh had requested the Beijing-based Asian infrastructure financier to arrange the review meeting.

AIIB has recently emerged as one of the key development partners of Bangladesh as it has so far confirmed a total of US$560 million worth of assistance during January-August period of this calendar year 2021 for the country's different development projects.

Another ERD official said that Bangladesh had already requested the AIIB for financing some projects in the transport, health, water and sanitation, power, and rural-development sectors.

"Besides, some of the ongoing projects for which AIIB confirmed financing are also facing some implementation delays. The review meeting will help remove the barriers," he told the FE.

He said they were taking preparation to hold the meeting sometime in the middle next month with the Beijing-based lender.

"We would call our project directors and line ministries to attend the tripartite meeting," the ERD official said, expressing the hope that the meeting would bring a fruitful result for executing the ongoing projects and expediting those in pipeline.

The AIIB had recently confirmed US$260 million in loan for building Kewatkhali Bridge in Mymensingh.

It also approved a $300-million loan in February this year for Bangladesh government for financing the COVID-19 Emergency and Crisis Response Facility project.

The loan is being utilized for executing government-announced stimulus package for cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs).

Earlier in 2020, the lender also signed nearly $1.0 billion worth of aid deals with Bangladesh government for several projects.

Furthermore, the AIIB has proposed providing another $900 million worth of aid for three separate projects and programmes in Bangladesh within this calendar year, ERD sources said.

According to the ERD, the proposed credits are expected to be provided for vaccine procurement, COVID-19 pandemic response and mitigation, economic recovery and power-transmission line.

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