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ECNEC approves TK 1092cr project to widen Cox’s Bazar Marine Drive Road

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The government today approved a total of 10 projects with an overall estimated cost of Taka 2,216.75 crore, including one to widen the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive Road with Taka 1,092.35 crore, aimed at flourishing tourism industry and improving socio-economic conditions there.
 
The approval came from a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) held today with its Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
 
The premier joined the meeting virtually from her official residence Ganobhaban while ministers, state ministers, planning commission members and secretaries concerned attended the meeting from the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.
 
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan informed that a total of 10 projects were approved today involving an overall estimated cost of Taka 2,216.75 crore.
 
“Of the total project cost, Taka 1,875.57 crore will come from the government of Bangladesh portion while the rest of Taka 341.18 crore as project assistance,” he said.
 
Out of the approved 10 projects, six are new while four others are revised projects.
 
State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam was present at the briefing.
 
Revealing some of the directives of the premier given in the meeting, the planning minister said the Prime Minister asked the authorities concerned to construct elevated roads, bridges or culverts instead of reconstructing the flood-affected roads at those points which were damaged or cut to drain out flood water in Sylhet region.
 
The Prime Minister also emphasized on construction of bridges and culverts instead of roads in Haor and flood-affected areas to avert flood water stagnation.
 
“Special projects will be undertaken for rehabilitation of the flood victims of the Sylhet region,” said Mannan.
 
Sheikh Hasina also directed the authorities concerned to find out the places where the construction of underpasses and overpasses is needed.
According to the Planning Commission, the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive Road Widening (1.60th KM-32th KM) Project will be implemented with Taka 1092.35 crore from July 2022 to June 2025.
 
The main objectives of the road widening project are to establish a safe communication system, develop the tourism industry and improve the socio-economic conditions of the local people through widening some 30 kilometers of the marine drive road and upgradation of a two-lane 305-meter bridge over Reju Khal.
 
The major project operations include acquisition of some 113.25 acres of lands, 7.24 lakh cubic meter of earth-filing, installation of 608 CCTV cameras and straightening 0.32 km flexible pavement bend.
 
Referring to the approval of a project related to expansion of improved variety and technology of spices with Taka 119.50 crore, Mannan said that the domestic and global demand for spices is growing day by day while its market price is also higher than other crops.
 
He informed that currently the domestic market of spices in the country is Taka 30,000 crore while some seven types of spices are being produced in the country although 50 types of spices are being consumed.
 
“As a result, most of the domestic demand is being met by imports. So, there is a need to produce more spices to reduce import dependency. Considering all these aspects, this project has been undertaken,” added Mannan.
 
He informed that the Bangladesh Spices Research Center has so far invented some 47 varieties of some 22 spice crops. The project will be implemented at some 110 upazilas and in 25 horticulture centers.
 
At the very outset of the meeting, the ECNEC greeted the Prime Minister with a bouquet of flowers for inaugurating the much hyped Padma Multipurpose Bridge.
 
The other projects approved in the meeting are Sustainable Agriculture Extension in Jashore Region with Taka 171.33 crore; A Railway Overpass Construction at Railbazar located at 81th KM of Kushtia (Trimohoni)-Meherpur-Chuadanga-Jhenaidah Regional Highway Project with Taka 75.11 crore; Construction of PC Girder Bridges and RCC Box Culverts in places of Dilapidated, Narrow Bailey Bridges on the Pirojpur part of Chakhali-Tushkhali-Mathbaria-Patharghata Highway Project with Taka 332.91 crore; Extension of Physical Infrastructural Facilities of MES (Military Engineering Services) in Dhaka Cantonment Project with Taka 98.50 crore.
 
The other projects approved in the meeting are Construction of a Railway Overpass at Gatepar area in Jamalpur Town (1st revised) Project with an additional cost of Taka 132.67 crore; Chief Judicial Magistrate Court Bhaban Construction at 64 District Headquarters of Bangladesh-1st Phase (3rd revised) Project with the cost of Taka 204.26 crore less than the previous estimated cost of Taka 2,464.60 crore; Emergency Assistance in Water Supply and Sanitation in Ukhia and Teknaf upazilas of Cox’s Bazar district (1st revised) with an additional cost of Taka 306.68 crore and Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf Road (N-1) Development (2nd revised) Project with the extra cost of Taka 91.96 crore.

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Bangladesh

Bailey Road Fire |  a wake-up call for commercial buildings and beyond

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M. Mahmudur Rashid

Vice President,Electronics Safety and Security Association of Bangladesh – ESSAB

We always talk about the unsafe conditions of old Dhaka, but the tragic incident of Bailey Road is an example of how we are building a new Dhaka. It is not an accident; it is the result of our actions. From the building owner to the authorities, everyone is equally responsible. Unplanned restaurants have been built on every floor of many multi-storied buildings. If not aware now, dire consequences are waiting for us. We have to think again, which is more expensive? The price of safety equipment or the price of life!


Building on Bailey Road – Green Cozy Cottage has permission from Rajuk as a mixed-use (commercial office and residential apartments), building type: E and R. It is absolutely illegal to set up a commercial kitchen/restaurant in a building without proper permission and occupancy approval. Green Cozy Cottage should have fire safety plans approved by the Fire Service and Civil Defence.

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The building should have fire exits with fire doors, evacuation paths, fire alarm systems and fire-fighting systems. Apart from that, a commercial kitchen/restaurant kitchen hood should have a specially designed automatic wet chemical type fire suppression system. Fire protection systems for a typical office or shopping area and a restaurant are not the same. Each restaurant had a live fire inside the building. They should also have a fire-separated area for storing cooking oil and gas.

But, unfortunately, Green Cozy Cottage has no fire exit with a fire door, no fire hydrant system and no kitchen fire suppression system in any of the restaurants. There were large LPG gas cylinders on each landing of the stairs. Here are some recommendations to prevent these types of fire hazards – 

Responsibility of building owner/user-


•    Building construction according to BNBC.
•    Do not change occupancy without proper authorization and arrangements.
•    Maintain proper fire exits with fire doors, emergency lighting systems, fire alarm systems and fire hydrant systems.
•    Install automatic fire sprinkler systems where required.
•    Install wet chemical-type kitchen suppression systems for kitchen hoods.
•    Store cooking oil, LPG gas and other flammable items in fire-separate zones. It also requires permission to do so.
•    A refuge area is recommended in multi-storied buildings to take shelter in case of a fire accident.
•    Use high-quality electrical appliances, accessories, electrical wiring and ovens.
•    Use proper ventilation and fire-rated dampers in central HVAC ducts.
•    Use CO2 or ABC powder extinguishers with a minimum capacity of 6 kg per 550 square feet area.
•    Use wet chemical extinguishers for class K fires (cooking oil/fat).
•    Regularly maintain and check all electrical and safety equipment.
•    Every establishment needs a trained rescue and fire-fighting team.
•    Arrange regular fire drills, at least once every six months.

Government responsibility

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•    Ensure enforcement of building codes and make necessary renovations
•    Facilitate the import of fire safety equipment, all establishments including commercial buildings need duty free facilities to import fire safety equipment like export-oriented factories.
•    Need to reduce the 7.5% VAT on the supply of fire safety equipment and 15% VAT on the consultancy service of fire safety plan.
•    Prevent import and marketing of defective and substandard fire safety equipment
•    Encourage banks to invest in procurement of fire safety equipment on easy terms
•    Popularize fire insurance.
•    Take action against those who construct dangerous buildings and structures in violation of the law
•    Incorporate fire safety and disaster management into the education system
•    Incentive package needed for entrepreneurs to start manufacturing and investing in fire safety equipment business in Bangladesh.
•    Build adequate fire hydrants on roads and reservoirs in cities
•    Enhancing fire service capacity through new technology and manpower
Public Responsibilities:
•    Avoid renting and using unsafe buildings
•    Get basic training in the use of fire safety equipment
•    Construct buildings/structures by building codes and fire safety regulations
•    Install proper fire safety equipment in every house, office, shop, and factory.
•    Be careful when using all types of electrical and gas appliances
•    Follow all safety instructions and signage.

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Bangladesh

Bangladesh’s apparel export to USA dips over 25% in 2023

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Bangladesh’s apparel shipments to the United States, its single largest export destination in 2023, declined 25% year on year to $7.29 billion due to high inflation caused by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

Bangladesh’s apparel exports to the US was $9.72 billion in 2022, according to the US Department of Commerce’s Office of Textiles and Apparel (Otexa) data.

The data also mentioned that the country’s overall apparel imports also declined 22.04 % year on year to $77.84 billion, while the import value was $99.86 billion a year ago.

In terms of volume, Bangladesh RMG export to the USA in 2023 also plunged about 28% to 2.25 billion square metres from 3.13 billion square metres in 2022, according to the Otexa data.

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Talking to The Business Standard, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association President Faruque Hassan said that the global apparel market was very volatile in 2023 as every country has reduced their imports due to high inflation driven by the Russia-Ukraine war.

He said that the largest apparel importer country – the US – also decreased their consumption due to the high inflation in 2023.

He said Bangladesh was not the only country which experienced negative growth in apparel export to the US market; every exporting country had the same experience in 2023.

The BGMEA president hoped that this market will be better in the coming days.

He also mentioned that the US inflation and interest would be stable, which may help the market rebound in coming months.

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The share of Bangladeshi apparel in the US market was about 10% in in 2022, while it fell to 9.37% last year.

However, Bangladesh’s position remained unchanged as the third-largest apparel exporter to the US market after China and Vietnam, which occupied their positions with 20.96% and 18.21% share respectively.

The OTEXA data showed, in 2023, Chinese apparel export to the USA fell 10.83% to $16.32 billion from $21.75 billion a year ago.

Vietnam and India’s apparel exports in 2023 decreased 22.29% and 21.42% respectively.

Indonesia and Cambodia’s apparel export to the United States fell 25.19% and 23.58% respectively in the year.

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Bangladesh

UK: Bangladesh makes huge progress in last 20 years

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British High Commission Dhaka’s Development Director Matt Cannell has said the government of Bangladesh has made huge development over the last twenty years.

Cannell said: “The UK has a strong and vibrant partnership with the government of Bangladesh in a range of areas, including diplomacy, trade and development.”

He said they are increasing their work to help end preventable deaths of mothers and newborn children in 11 countries around the world, including in Bangladesh.

“I would like to particularly applaud the work of newly trained midwives in improving maternal and newborn health care,” Cannell added.

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Head of Human Development Department of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in the UK Chris Carter said Bangladesh is rightly applauded for its family planning and immunization programs, and the government’s commitment to driving down maternal and child deaths, such as the Bangladesh Every Newborn Action Plan.

“We hope to do more to help build on these efforts. It has been incredible to see the beginning of another Bangladesh success story to develop a new icddr.b alternative formula for Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF),” Carter said.

The British High Commission Dhaka recently co-hosted a roundtable with the government of Bangladesh and other development partners to discuss how to step up efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, babies and children in Bangladesh.

Director General of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Prof Dr Abul Bashar Mohammed Khurshid Alam attended the roundtable as the chief guest.

Chris Carter set out how the UK plans to work closely with the government and partners to sustain and build on Bangladesh’s progress on ending preventable deaths.

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This includes working on quality, affordable health services and also addressing underlying issues, such as poor nutrition.

The roundtable included an initial consultation about how to tackle the remaining issues that cause preventable deaths of mothers, babies and children in Bangladesh.

This will help to inform the UK’s approach and identify areas where the UK, the government of Bangladesh and other partners can intensify their collaboration, said the British High Commission in Dhaka on Sunday. 

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