Andy Burnham pays rich tribute to British-Bangladeshis in his area
The Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) can benefit, in several sectors, from cooperation with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) of the UK, its Mayor Andy Burnham has said, offering his organization’s help in facing some of the challenges faced by the two Bangladeshi cities.
He also placed great emphasis on more people-to-people contact and trade between Bangladesh and the GMCA.
“There are areas where we can offer our help for the DNCC and SCC. For example, we can help SCC deal with issues related to waste, water and drainage as well as health and education,” Burnham said in an exclusive interview with Dhaka Tribune on Saturday night, at the residence of the British high commissioner.
As for the DNCC, he said the GMCA can also play a cooperative role in regard to resolving some problems, although at a lower scale, the GMCA and the two city corporations in Bangladesh face similar issues, especially the transport system.
Burnham, who represents 2.8 million people living in the greater Manchester city, including nearly 50,000 British-Bangladeshis, led a delegation during his trip to Bangladesh on October 3-5. He is the first directly-elected UK mayor to visit Bangladesh. The delegation had meetings with the mayors of Sylhet and Dhaka North.
During the delegation’s visit to Sylhet, the GMCA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Sylhet City Corporation on cooperation in waste management, drainage and water management, said Burnham, a former secretary of state (full cabinet minister) under the previous Labour government.
“I will send a team in regard to problems relating to waste and water in the SCC,” he said, expressing his interest in sharing knowledge between the GMCA and two Bangladeshi city corporations.
Asked about the purpose of the visit, the Labour Party politician said: “I just wanted to show my respect for the Bangladeshis who went to the Greater Manchester area, especially from the Sylhet region, in the 1950s and 1960s and had massive contribution to our society and economy.”
Those who went at that time from Bangladesh experienced hardship and racism, he added.
“I will tell the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those Bangladeshis in my area not to forget their roots,” Burnham said, noting that the third and fourth generation British-Bangladeshis could be a good source of investments in Bangladesh.
A direct air link between Bangladesh and Manchester will help increase trade between Bangladesh and Britain as many British-Bangladeshi businessmen in the greater Manchester area will be encouraged to do more trade and make more investment in Bangladesh, he said.
Placing emphasis on the branding of Bangladesh, the GMCA mayor pointed out: “When people talk about this region they talk about India and Pakistan.”
But Bangladesh, which is the eighth largest country in the world by population, does not get the attention it deserves, he added.