Goverment has no plan to scrap caretaker system: Hasina

The caretaker government of Bangladesh is a form of government system in which the country is ruled by a selected government for an interim period during transition from one government to another, after the completion tenure of the former. As the outgoing government hands over their power, the caretaker government comes into place. The main objective of the caretaker government is to create an environment in which an election can be held in a free and fair manner without any political influence of the outgoing government. The head of the Caretaker government is called the Chief Adviser and is selected by the President, and the Chief Adviser selects the other advisers. The administration is generally distributed between the advisers. The Chief Adviser and the other advisers are committed for their activities to the President
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said her government so far had no plan to scrap the caretaker government system despite the “bitter experiences” of the past two years of interim regime.

“We have not thought about changing the system,” she told a press meet at Bangladesh Permanent Mission in New York on Monday at the fag end of her nine-day tour of the United States to join the 65th UN General Assembly.

But, she said, there was no denying the fact that “everybody is annoyed with the bitter experience of the past two years of interim regime in the name of the caretaker government.”

Sheikh Hasina added that everything would be done in line with the people’s desire while a parliamentary committee, constituted several months ago to suggest constitutional amendments in line with two landmark Supreme Court judgments declaring illegal the post 1975 military regimes, might have their own observations about the caretaker system.

Asked for her comments about the release of the corruption suspects who were exposed to trial under emergency rules during the past military-backed interim administration, the Prime Minister said they were released under court orders because of technical faults in lodging the cases. “But the Anti-Corruption Commission is working independently, though the main opposition party is out to save them,” she said.

Replying to a question on exposure of perpetrators of 1971 crimes against humanity, Sheikh Hasina said “this is not symbolic trial” as the war criminals would be tried under law following investigations.

“They will be tried under law for which we were elected to power with huge mandate, particularly from youths . . . we staged their symbolic trial through ‘gano adalat’ in early 1990s and now they are being exposed to real trial,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina, however, said the trial of war criminals was a “continued process” like the trial of Second World War criminals which staggered over decades to expose to justice the perpetrators wherever they were found.

The Prime Minister said during the post independence Bangabandhu government 11,000 suspected war criminals were in jail to face the trial while charges were constituted against another 22,000.

But, she said, after the August 15, 1975 carnage, the successive military regime of General Ziaur Rahman freed them under martial law proclamation and scrapped the entire process.

“They returned the citizenship of the people that was scrapped for opposing Bangladesh’s independence, rehabilitated them socially and all these were done by Ziaur Rahman, though he himself was a freedom fighter,” the Premier said.

Replying to another question regarding an old demand of US expatriate Bangladeshis for resuming Biman’s Dhaka-New York flight, the Premier said Bangladesh Biman had placed orders to procure aircraft from Boeing company which were expected to be delivered by 2011.

“Soon after the aircraft are received, the route will be reopened,” she said.

Asked about her government’s plans to ban religion-based politics while the trial of war criminals was underway, she said the two things were separate issues.

“Bangladesh is a secular country . . . but the election commission would decide under law which party was competent to do election politics,” Sheikh Hasina said.

Earlier, Sheikh Hasina spoke at a reception at the own building of Bangladesh’s permanent mission, which she had opened last year, where Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Planning Minister Air Vice Marshal (retd) AK Khondaker, Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, parliamentary chief whip Vice-Principal Abdus Shahid, among others, joined the reception.

Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr AK Abdul Momen hosted the reception also attended by leading Bangladeshi expatriates in the United Nations alongside the mission staff.

History
A caretaker government was first introduced in 1990 when three party alliances jointly made a demand for it. It was constitutionalized in 1996 by the Parliament dominated by Bangladesh Nationalist Party. A Caretaker government is headed by a Chief Adviser who enjoys the same power as the regular prime minister of the country except defence matters. The Advisors function as Ministers. Since 1996, the Caretaker government has held the elections of 1996, 2001 and 2008.

Bangladesh plans billion-USD projects to develop telecom sector

The Bangladeshi government as part of its efforts to develop the country’s telecommunications sector has taken move to implement seven projects at a cost of nearly 1 billion U.S. dollars, an official said Wednesday.

The telecommunications ministry official told media that the projects include establishment of a telecommunication network based on next generation networking technology at a cost of 17.25 billion taka ( 25 million U.S. dollars and broadband wireless network costing 5.49 billion taka (7.84 million U.S. dollars).

He said the projects also include expansion of internet information network involving 2.909 billion taka, introducing 3G network costing 19.09 billion taka, building e-post centers at a cost of 5.97 billion taka and IT-based post offices costing 6.04 billion taka.

The seventh is to develop optical fibre cable networks in 1,000 unions, the lowest tire of local government in Bangladesh, costing 7.59 billion taka, he added.

The official could not tell the time frame for completion of the projects on which the government officials concerned are working.

He, however, said many more projects for developing sector are also under planning stage to help transform Bangladesh into a digital country by 2021 which Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her party’s election manifesto in December 2008 pledged.

Bangladesh seeks policymaking role in UN

Sources :p Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to involve Bangladesh in the policymaking and responsible duties of the United Nations as the country is capable of carrying out such trust.

She made the plea during a meeting with the UN secretary general on Monday afternoon at the UN building in New York.

Hasina praised the leadership of Ban Ki-moon for making the UN a functional institution to look after the world and the mankind.

She said that in many areas of the MDGs, Bangladesh has made remarkable achievements although the country got an award for reducing the child mortality rate.

Briefing reporters after the meeting PM’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad said the prime minister informed the UN secretary general that Bangladesh government is committed to its people to reach the target for all MDGs.

Hasina also said Bangladesh could have made good progress if the democratic process of the country had not been halted several times by autocratic governments.

She said after assuming the office her government has fixed the target to free the country from poverty, illiteracy and corruption, and also make it a middle-income country by 2021.

Hasina said the main enemy of the sub-continent is poverty and her government has been working tirelessly to get rid of this menace. ??We’re working hard to improve the fate of the country and its people.??

The premier said her government has allocated Tk 700 crore from its own fund and prepared 134 projects to face the adverse impacts of the climate change.

Ban Ki-moon thanked the prime minister for attending the UN General Assembly session and highly appreciated her strong commitment towards democracy, strong leadership and social uplift.

??You are the strongest champion among the champions,?? he told the prime minister for her achievements in different sectors, including the MDGs.

Ban Ki-moon also appreciated Bangladesh’s capability of disaster management and praised Bangladesh for its contribution in the UN Peacekeeping Missions.

Currently, Bangladesh is the highest contributor of troops in the UN Peacekeeping Missions.

The UN secretary general expressed his high expectation that Bangladesh would get more awards in future like this year’s MDG award for reducing child mortality rate.

He also praised the leadership role of Hasina during the COP-15. ??I appreciate your sincerity to your people and the world mankind,?? Ban Ki-moon added.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Ambassador at-large M Ziauddin and Principal Secretary MA Karim were, among others, present during the meeting

Bangladesh to bring back 2449 Bangladeshis imprisoned in 32 countries Bangladesh

Bangladesh to bring back 2449 Bangladeshis imprisoned in 32 countries Bangladesh .Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni told the House that a total of 2,449 Bangladesh nationals are in the prisons of 32 countries at present and the government is trying to bring them back home through diplomatic efforts.

In her written statement in the house the FM, mentioned that of those ill-fated Bangladeshi citizens, some 843 are in Malaysia, 375 in the United Arab Emirates, 188 in Britain, 180 in Singapore, 173 in Algeria, 161 in Oman and 125 are in Qatar.

Dr Dipu Moni claimed that the Government has taken all possible initiatives through its missions and legal procedure as well as utilising its office to pursue the countries for freeing Bangladesh detainees.

Responding to a question of JSD (Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal) legislator, the Foreign Minister mentioned the latest available figure which was read out by State Minister for Forests and Environment Dr Hasan Mahmud yesterday in the parliament. In absence of the foreign minister, who is now in New York City to attend the 65th General Assembly session of the United States. In reply to another question Dipu Moni said that there is no friendship treaty between Bangladesh and any country in the world now.

Replying to a question of Jatiya Party (Ershad) legislator Md Mujibul Huq Chunnu, the Minister said that full-fledged Bangladesh diplomatic missions or consulates would soon be opened in Kabul in Afghanistan, Freetown in Sierra Leon, Abuja in Nigeria, Lisbon in Portugal, Port Luis in Mauritius, Beirut in Lebanon, Kun Ming in China, Milan in Italy and Mexico, Vienna in Austria and Denmark. Four other missions, which were closed earlier, would be opened in Brazil, Algeria, Poland and Romania in the current fiscal.

Dr Dipu Moni added that all formalities including budgetary allocation had already been completed to open Bangladesh diplomatic mission in Khartoum in Sudan.

Dipu Moni said Bangladesh government has decided to take recourse to international laws as the maritime boundary issue with Myanmar could not be resolved through bi-lateral talks between the two neighbours. She added that Bangladesh filed a suit against Myanmar to get redress of the maritime issue in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) 1982.

The Foreign Minister also said that the case is under trial of the ITLOS now.

Replying to a supplementary of Workers Party president Rashed Khan Menon, Dr Hasan Mahmud said that the diplomatic training module has been changed for rendering better services to the workers of the country working in different countries. He added that the labour wings in Bangladesh missions abroad would be strengthened where required.

India, Bangladesh agree to combat infiltration, prevent casualties

India has urged Bangladesh to dismantle the camps of all northeast insurgent groups operating from within its territory, said a senior Border Security Force (BSF) official Monday. Bangladesh in turn has asked India to crack down on factories near the border illegally manufacturing phensedyl cough syrup that was being used as a popular drug. India and Bangladesh today agreed to step up cooperation to combat illegal infiltration, smuggling of narcotics and prevent casualties in cross border firing as they ended a key conference of frontier guards here.
The five-day Director General level conference between Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and Border Security Force discussed a series of issues, including combating illegal infiltration and narcotics smuggling and preventing casualties in cross border firing along the common porous frontier areas.BDR chief Maj Gen Rafiqul Islam, who was head of the 22-member delegation at the talks, said the discussions focused on two precise issues – smuggling, particularly drugs which spoils the young generation, and deaths of Bangladeshi people along the border.He said a list of smuggling points with pictures was handed over to his Indian counterpart and the BSF assured him that they would take steps against it.
BSF chief Raman Srivastava, who was leading a 20-member Indian delegation, assured that steps would be taken to minimize the problems along the common border without loss of lives.”We are trying our best to minimise the problems without loss of lives,” he told a press briefing at the end of conference at the BDR Headquarters in the capital.The BSF chief said they are exploring alternatives to minimise the firing at the border.On the outcome of the conference, Srivastava said: “We are going back with positive impression and this meeting will remain as landmark.” Islam said the outcome of the meeting was satisfactory.

The conference, which began on September 22, ended today with the signing of a joint record of discussion.Both sides agreed to strengthen border patrol on their respective side and exchange information to check cross-border crimes.Asked about the alleged killing of Bangladeshi civilians along the border, Srivastava said “it should not be called ‘killing,’ a better term is death.” “All these people are dying inside the Indian territory, not in Bangladesh territory,” the BSF chief said, adding almost half of the dead are “Indian criminals.” He underlined that these people trespass the border by cutting fences or by other means at dead of the night with intention of smuggling.”We’ve no desire to kill people. We’re doing our best to reduce such incidents,” Srivastava said.He said the Indian side imposes curfew at night along the border and Bangladesh side may also do the same to avoid these incidents.Asked about the BSF proposal to impose night curfew along the border, the BDR chief said it is not possible at this point of time.However, Islam said restrictions on movement along the border have already been imposed to avoid unpleasant incidents.

India- Bangladesh deals to help burnish South Asian image

India and Bangladesh IS RELATED with so important that none can avoid the better neiborhood factor for real development .India and Bangladesh have reportedly agreed in principle to swap each other’s enclaves that are spread along the border areas and re-demarcate 6.1 kilometers of boundary ? in effect resolving an issue that has bedeviled Indo-Bangladesh ties since independence.

This is an historic move that could transform New Delhi’s relations with Dhaka perhaps forever. In recent months, India has made some significant overtures in its immediate neighborhood.

The Indian government has appointed, Shyam Saran, a former foreign secretary, as a special envoy to Nepal in an effort to end the political logjam in the Himalayan kingdom over the election of a new prime minister. The political parties in Nepal have not been able to reconcile their differences and, as a result, the writing of a constitution and the larger peace process remain in the doldrums. India has finally realized that it cannot remain nonchalant about the political drift in Kathmandu.

Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee made a whirlwind trip to Dhaka last month to mark the signing of a $1 billion loan deal, the largest line of credit received by Bangladesh under a single agreement. India’s Exim Bank has signed this line-of-credit agreement with Bangladesh’s economic relations division. The loan will be used to develop railways and communications infrastructure in Bangladesh. The deal carries a 1.75 percent annual interest rate and is to be repaid in 20 years with a five-year grace period.

Mukherjee’s was the first high-profile Indian political visit to Bangladesh after Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s trip to New Delhi in January. Bangladesh has been rightly upset at the slow pace of implementing deals signed during Hasina’s visit.

Sheikh Hasina has taken great political risk in putting momentum back into Delhi-Dhaka ties. But there has been no serious attempt on India’s part to settle outstanding issues. Bureaucratic inertia and lack of political will has prevented follow-through on many the deals.

Dhaka is seeking an expeditious Indian response to its demand for the removal of tariff and nontariff barriers from Bangladeshi products. There has also been little movement on the boundary issue and on transit rights.

India has failed to reciprocate fully to Hasina’s overtures. It’s this lackadaisical Indian attitude toward its neighbors that has shifted New Delhi to the strategic margins of its own neighborhood and allowed Beijing to fill the void.

China’s rising profile in South Asia is no news. What is astonishing is the diminishing role of India and the rapidity with which New Delhi is ceding strategic space to Beijing on the subcontinent.

Pakistan’s “all-weather” friendship with China is well-known, but the reach of China in other South Asian states has been extraordinary. For their part, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka view India as more interested in creating barriers against their exports than in spurring regional economic integration.

India’s protectionist tendencies have allowed China to don the mantle of regional economic leader as China has become the largest trade partner of most states in South Asia, including India.

Earlier this year, China increased its annual aid to Nepal by 50 percent to about $22 million and is now the largest aid donor to Sri Lanka. Consequently, instead of India emerging as the facilitator of socio-economic development in Sri Lanka and Nepal, it is China’s developmental assistance that might end up having a greater impact in the region.

India’s structural dominance in South Asia makes it a natural target of resentment among its smaller neighbors. Its looming presence creates the unique paradox in which the core regional power itself is seen as constituting a security threat. There are major disputes within the region and somehow India seems to occupy center stage.

Most states have bilateral disputes with India. Bangladesh remains concerned about India exploiting its geographical position to redirect water flows, while India’s control over transit links makes Nepal and Bhutan susceptible to pressure from New Delhi. These disputes have led to a climate of political animosity and suspicion that has resulted in limited cooperation.

India is far ahead of all the South Asian states in economic power, military might and global influence. This makes other small states in the region apprehensive of India’s intentions. While they recognize the importance of India in facilitating faster economic growth in the region, they are reluctant to work with India for fear that India will use regional organizations like the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation to further its “hegemonic ambitions.”

Instability in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar is a major inhibiting factor in India’s efforts to realize its dream of becoming a major global player. India is surrounded by several weak states that view New Delhi’s status in the region with suspicion.

The structural position of India in the region makes it highly likely that Indian predominance will continue to be resented by its smaller neighbors, even as instability nearby continues to have the potential of upsetting its own delicate political balance.

A policy of “splendid isolation” is not an option, and India’s desire to emerge as a major global player will remain just that ? unless it engages its immediate neighborhood more meaningfully. That involves a proactive diplomatic posture that takes the concerns of smaller neighbors seriously and a political generosity that allows them an opportunity to share the benefits of India’s economic rise.

So, with regard to Bangladesh at least, it is heartening to see New Delhi finally realizing that it needs to take its immediate neighborhood more seriously.

Bangladesh discovers gas field ‘Sunetra’with huge reserves-upto three trillion cubic feet (tcf)

Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration Company (Bapex) has discovered a potentially large oil and gas structure in Sunamganj-Netrokona districts and is preparing to drill an exploratory well there
A new gas field with a possibility of a two to three trillion cubic feet (tcf) reserve has been found in Bangladesh, an official said.

The gas structure in the Sunamganj-Netrakona districts of the northeastern region has been discovered by the state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration Company (Bapex).

The company is preparing to drill an exploratory well in the new oil and gas structure determined after a survey, According to Bapex Managing Director Mortuza Ahmad Faruque, while finding oil and gas there ultimately depended on luck, the geological structure determined through a survey was very much in favour of a gas field with two to three trillion cubic feet (tcf) reserve
In such case, it would be the biggest find by the lone Bangladeshi exploration company that had over the years discovered 10 small to medium fields. The biggest field discovered by Bapex so far is in Shahbazpur in Bhola that has around 600 billion cubic feet (bcf) reserve.

‘This is a high prospect zone. It is located in the Surma basin. The Bibiyana field is located in the eastern part of this basin while this zone is located in the western part. This zone has all the geological characteristics required for oil or gas deposits. The size of this structure can accommodate two to three tcf gas,’ said Faruque.

The structure has been given the name ‘Sunetra’ combining the names of Sunamganj and Netrokona as the structure spreads across both the districts.

Bapex is now preparing a high priority proposal for the government to drill one exploratory well in March-April next year at a cost of $11.5 million in Fulor village in Sunamganj by the Monai river.

This could be the biggest find by the lone Bangladeshi exploration company that had over the years discovered 10 small to medium fields. The biggest field discovered by Bapex so far is in Shahbazpur in Bhola that has around 600 billion cubic feet (bcf) reserve, the newspaper said.

Gas from this field can be made available to Netrokona or Mymensingh within a couple of years. The energy ministry is already working on a pipeline project on priority basis to transmit the new find.

The structure was discovered through a seismic survey covering a line of 260 km conducted last year and earlier this year. The interpretation of the survey data was completed in July and Bapex submitted it to its parent company Petrobangla.

Bangladesh has high gas reserves, but says that it is short of gas and signed a contract with India this year to import it

Arvind Textile to set up facility in Bangladesh; invest $66 mn

Indian firm Arvind Mills will invest USD 66 million to set up a textile and garment manufacturing unit at the Comilla Export Processing Zone in Bangladesh.

The company will invest USD 66 million in setting up the unit, which will produce textile and garment items.

The unit will create employment opportunity for 3,170 persons, including 120 foreign nationals.

An agreement to this effect was signed between the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority and the Arvind Textile Mills Limited in BEPZA Complex in the city today.

Mohammed Moyjuddin Ahmed, Member (Investment Promotion) of BEPZA and Aamir Akthar, CEO-Denims of Arvind Textile Mills Limited, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations.

About ARVIND MILLS LIMITED

The Arvind Mills was set up with the pioneering effort of the Lalbhai brothers in 1931. With the best of technology and business acumen, Arvind has become a true Indian multinational, having chosen to invest strategically, where demand has been high and quality required has been superlative. Today, The Arvind Mills Limited is the flagship company of Rs.20 billion (US$ 500 million) Lalbhai Group.

Arvind Mills has set the pace for changing global customer demands for textiles and has focused its attention on select core products. Such a focus has enabled the company to play a dominant role in the global textile arena. With its presence across the textile value chain, the company endeavors to be a one-stop shop for leading garment brands.

Forevision and Technology has brought Arvind to be one of the top three producers of Denim in the world, and on its way becoming the Global Textile Conglomerate. Arvind is already making its presence felt in Shirting??s, Knits and Khakis fabrics apart from being all set to create ripples in the ready to wear Garments world over.

Airmen wrap up bi-lateral training exercise in Bangladesh

KURMITOLA AIR BASE, BANGLADESH — U.S. Airmen from Yokota Air Base, Japan, wrapped up four days of training with their Bangladesh Air Force counterparts as exercise Cope South 10 came to an end, Sept. 23.

More than 40 U.S. Airmen and two C-130 Hercules aircraft came to the Asian nation to train with their Air Force to better respond to regional disasters. The exercise focused on tactical airlift operations with the Bangladesh AN-32 aircraft.

Building up the relationship between the two countries was the theme of Cope South 10. Much of that relationship building happened during exchanges between subject-matter experts in operations, maintenance, navigation and rigging disciplines.

“Their planes are older so we learned some things about the B-model C-130 while we told them about our H-model C-130,” said Tech. Sgt. Doug Harper, of the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “They’re very knowledgeable about the aircraft. They’re trying to figure out from us how to improve their aircraft. They’re very well rounded. Our work is split up into different specialties in the Air Force. They have far less groups so their maintainers do a lot more.”

One of the exercise’s objectives was to introduce Bangladesh navigators and pilots to flying missions using night vision goggles.

“The squadron commander approached me after the briefing and told me how great he thought this would cement the basics for his aircrew,” said 1st Lt. Robert Carranza, a C-130 navigator with the 36th Airlift Squadron. “They don’t fly much with night vision goggles so being able to take them up on our aircraft for observation rides showed them what their world looks like through NVGs at night.”

Bangladesh Air Force loadmasters also spent time learning how to secure cargo in a different airframe than the one they normally use.

“We went over airdrop limitations, the lengths platforms can be, the different air extraction parachutes that can be used, and our personal experiences of doing training drops,” said Staff Sgt. Jace Hartog, from the 36th AS. “They’ve done airdrops in the past, but not with a C-130. They wanted to learn from somebody that’s experienced and wanted to get hands-on application and a general knowledge base so they could start their training.”

Air crews from both nations had originally planned to conduct joint airdrops, but flooding at the drop zone prevented the training. However, the crews maximized every opportunity to learn from each other. Staff Sgt. Christopher Smith, 374 AMXS, found himself assisting Bangladesh aircraft electricians troubleshoot problems they were having with their older model C-130.

“We’re just bouncing ideas off of each other to find solutions to problems,” said Sergeant Smith.

Cope South 10 was all about continuing to strengthen our relationship with the Bangladesh Air Force, said Lt. Col. Rick Richard, 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander.

“Procedures and techniques were shared by both forces and I think we’ve learned quite a bit from each other,” he said. “We’ve also expanded our relationships along the way.”

Bangladesh Air Vice Marshall Abu Eshrar was also impressed by the manner in which the exercise was carried out.

“To me the most important objective we have achieved is extending the friendship, mutual cooperation and understanding between our two countries,” he said at the closing ceremony. “I’m confident all the participating team members used this opportunity to further enhance our continued relationship and that this bonding will continue to develop in the days ahead.”

At the closing ceremony Brig. Gen. Michael Keltz, Pacific Air Forces director of operations, plans and programs, called Cope South 10 the experience of a lifetime for those who participated.

“The bottom line is the relationship we have with Bangladesh is very important,” he said. “You are in a very strategic region of the world. The better we can work together and the more we understand each other, the better we can work humanitarian affairs and disaster relief.”

Chittagong port slide backwards :Mismanagement at Chittagong port

CHITTAGONG port is the most important gateway for the external trade and handles nearly 90 per cent of the country’s export and import cargo. The growth of the volume of business through the port is 14 per cent per annum and this is expected to shoot up rapidly in the near future. This explains the great significance of this port for the national economy. Only by running it efficiently and cutting down handling time at different stages, better earnings and security of the country’s export and import trade can be achieved. Furthermore, the port can be readied to handle regional cargo and earn lucrative amounts of money.

In the near past focussed attention was given to improving the operations of the port. The results were found impressive. Indeed, the improved functioning of the port was useful for business. The congestion noted earlier completely disappeared and foreign shipping companies started taking lower charges for calling Chittagong port. But it seems that the good days of Chittagong port could be over soon if the policy planners at the highest level of the government do not immediately realise the great importance of taking very resolved steps to sustain the improvements which were painstakingly achieved.

Over the last one year, vested interests appear to have staged a full comeback and are holding their sway over the port once again. As a consequence external trade is again facing losses worth at least US$ 5.0 million a month due to imposition of congestion surcharge afresh by the feeder operators. The stay time of ships at the port has increased again from 7 to 12 days on average that had come down to only one day. Thus, the government should realise the need of taking immediate measures to improve its operational efficiency.
There is almost a break-down in the management of Chittagong Port which is the lifeline of the country’s economy. A meeting was held in the office of the Prime Minister on September 15 last to discuss the situation in Chittagong Port. The principal secretary to the Prime Minister presided over the meeting. The Port authority presented a paper in the meeting identifying the reasons for the precarious condition of the port. Representatives of shipping agents association, BGMEA, Chittagong Chamber and other organisations as well as the high officials of the port authority attended the meeting.

During the meeting the principal secretary instructed the Chairman of the port to reduce the turn-around time in the port to a minimum promptly. One official of the port was transferred for inefficiency. In the meeting, the shipping ministry and the port authority blamed each other for deteriorating situation in the port. There is serious congestion of ships and containers due to mismanagement. As this news is reaching the outside world many ships have cancelled their Chittagong bound journey. Many exporters are worried about the shipment of their cargo.

It was decided in the meeting to set up within a week a port advisory committee, finalise the pre-qualifying tender for operation of the NCT, strengthen security for preventing theft of cargo from containers and install cctv cameras. Special emphasis was given on controlling labour unrest. Port users were very hard on the chairman of the port. Port officials were held responsible for the deteriorating situation. The Chairman of the port admitted the difficult situation in the port.

Representatives of trade bodies called for taking action to tide over the situation. They said that there was no control mechanism in the port. Work has slowed in the container jetty. There is no sign of reduction in container and ship congestion. The situation may worsen in the next few days with the arrival of more ships and containers. On September 17, the number of ships stood at 83 in the jetty and at the outer anchorage.

Many Chittagong bound ships from Singapore have cancelled their trips .The economy will be affected because of this. It is estimated that the garment sector has lost about Tk 10 billion in last four months because of slow work in the port. The loss to the entire economy will be much more. Dhaka bound containers have piled up at the port.

In the meeting, five areas were specially discussed which included the problem relating to appointment of berth operators, labour management, declining efficiency, condition of the port authority and implementation of important ongoing projects. There is delay in appointing berth operators through tendering. There is 30 per cent increase in containers carried by ships. There is lack of equipment in the port.

It was pointed out in the meeting that unless dynamism is brought back immediately, import and export will stagnate. The principal secretary said that necessary instructions have been given and expressed the hope that situation would improve. The shipping secretary said that tender procedure for handling has created problem. Contractors will be appointed by September 30 next after completion of tendering procedure. Things would improve thereafter. The domination of trade unions and litigation over container handling have resulted in the increase of turn-over time. As a result the exporters cannot export their cargo on time and many buyers have cancelled orders.

It was reported in the meeting that in August 2009, 71 ships waited for 2.55 days and unloaded 96,364 containers whereas in August this year 69 ships waited for 4.59 days on the average to unload114808 containers. At this stage the president of BGMEA said that handling charge at the port has increased manifold. During the time of last caretaker govt turn-over time of ships was 2.0 to 2.5 days. Now it has increased to 7/8days. In some cases it went upto 10/12 days. Therefore, the cargo cannot reach the buyers on time.

The principal secretary said that the Prime Minister was concerned about congestion of ships and containers at the Chittagong port. He warned that if things did not improve, action would be taken against the concerned officials.

About 1000 containers have piled up in the shed of the port. This is because of shortage of trains for carrying the containers to Dhaka. Railway officials said that even if there are wagons, there is shortage of engines. Therefore, container trains do not reach Dhaka in time.

According to radio control room of the port, there are many ships waiting in the outer anchorage and the jetty. These ships are carrying edible oil, sugar, fertilizer, salt, foodgrains, cement clinker and petroleum products. Shipping agents are giving declaration of arrival of new ships daily. As a matter of fact, arrival of ships is a daily activity. The port has to be operational round the clock.

After the meeting in Prime Minister’s office, the Chittagong Port Authority has moved to find ways to reduce the turn-around time in the port. All the stakeholders were asked to work round the clock to improve the situation as early as possible. Workers, crane operators, port officials, customs agents and clearing and forwarding agents were directed to fine-tune their activities to achieve the target.

The situation has worsened in the port during the last few days. Several ships carrying rice are waiting in the outer anchorage. Four ships carrying wheat are also in the same situation. These ships are not getting berth in the jetty. Mills and factories are facing shortage of raw materials which cannot be unloaded from the port.

The whole country particularly the business community is concerned about the operation of the port. This is a priority for the whole country. Govt is finding it difficult to tackle the problems of gas and electricity, traffic congestion, prices of essential commodities and law and order. Chittagong port is another headache for the govt. In order to relieve the anxiety of the govt, a humble suggestion is made that the container handling at the Chittagong port should revert to the system that prevailed during the period of the caretaker govt. During caretaker regime discipline was restored in the port. The port was running well during their time. We should not gamble with the Chittagong port. Problem at the port will multiply when the Indian cargo starts arriving. Govt may consider the above suggestion with open mind.

War tribunal team hears accusation against Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury

To investigate war crime allegations against senior BNP leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury.The visiting prosecution and investigation team of International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) found evidence against BNP standing Committee member Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury in connection with the murder of a Hindu community member in Chittagong during the 1971 Liberation War.

Meanwhile, the team member Ziad Al Mamun told journalists at the sideline of the investigation that not only SQ Chowdhury but his father, late Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, was also a war criminal.

“We have got ample evidence of crimes against humanity persecuted by SQ Chowdhury and more are on the cards after full length probe ” said Mamun

The investigation team heard from Prafulla Chandra Singha, son of Nutan Nutan Chandra Singha, a philanthropist and former owner of a herbal medicine factory ‘Kundeshwari’, as he revealed the incidents of that day before the ICT team led by its chief prosecutor Golam Arif Tipu, at their residence at Gahira under Raojan upazila this morning.

The victim’s son provided the information to the probe team about the day he was killed at his home at Gahira of Raozan on April 13 in 1971.

Prafulla alleged that SQ Chowdury under the directives of his father Fazlul Quader Chowdhury had brought Pakistani army at their residence on April 13 in 1971 and the Pak forces brought Nutan from his residence and killed him brutally.

He also deposed to the investigators that he was not in the country during the killing as his family members went to India with the help of former minister and BNP leader Abdullah Al Noman and his elder brother and former Awami League leader late Abdullah Al Harun in a bid to save them.

Prafullah , informed the ICT team that his father, however,refused to go to India and said he would not go anywhere leaving his country. The victim son Prafulla said he was informed about the details of the killing incident from former chairman of Gahira Union late Amanat Khan Chowdhury

Investigation :
Tribunal’s chief prosecutor Ghulam Arif Tipu is leading the team, which also comprises lawyers Mokhlesur Rahman Badal, additional superintendents of police Nurul Islam and Matiur Rahman, and inspectors Abdur Razzak Khan and Idris Ali.

Investigators have already visited Brahmanbaria, where Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami kingpin and former chief Ghulam Azam hails from, and Pirojpur, native home of another Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee, to enquire about the war crime allegations against them.