Lack of requisite infrastructure | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 09, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 09, 2012


Lack of requisite infrastructure

Port city's development held back

Chittagong occupies a unique position in the economy as it is home to the largest port in the country. The district as a whole is a major hub of commerce and industry. The economy of the region is valued at about $25 billion and about 40% of the country's industrial output is concentrated there.
Given such positive traits, one could easily be tempted to believe that Chittagong will emerge along the lines of Singapore or Hong Kong for that matter in the not too distant future. Yet, behind the visible lie certain unpalatable truths that threaten to derail the 2030 vision which foresees an economy tripling to $60 billion, a port rivalling regional competitors serving as a hub for trade and commerce in the greater South Asian context.
Business community leaders blame lack of movement on key infrastructural issues that revolve around chronic shortage of electricity, inefficient cargo handling at the port and a grossly dilapidated communications system including roads, highways and rail network. The bad news does not end there. The much-hyped mooring container terminal is yet to be made operational at the port and there remain serious problems with finance from the banking sector. The effects of improper decision-making to tackle infrastructural bottlenecks are, in effect, throttling the local economy and basically threatening to derail future prospects. For instance, we are very fond of illustrating how many thousands of megawatts (MW) of electricity has been added to the national grid, conveniently overlooking the fact that 896MW out of newly-added 3,286MW remain 'off-line' due to a combination of lack of fuel and maintenance. The same may be said of the ill-planned expansion of Dhaka-Chittagong highway from two to four lanes that failed to factor in existence of already present bridges.
What transpires from all this is that proper planning is a prerequisite to development. Unless, concrete efforts are made to address the problems associated with infrastructure, finance and the culture of red-tape, the sorry state of the biggest segment of Chittagong's industry, i.e. readymade garments with an annual turnover of $18billion will continue to function at sub par level.

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