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Dhaka Tribune

CDA positive as RMG owners seek land in port city

Update : 23 Oct 2015, 07:40 PM

Apparel manufacturers in Chittagong have demanded allocation of land for setting up a garments estate at a special zone in the district.

The garment owners said that unavailability of a large chunk of land in Chittagong had emerged as a major setback for them and many industrial units were shifted to Dhaka and its adjoining areas due to the excessive price of land in Chittagong.

A delegation of the newly elected body of the BGMEA headed by Moinuddin Ahmed Mintu called on Chittagong Development Authority Chairman Abdus Salam on October 21 and sought necessary cooperation for constructing a separate industrial village for the apparel manufacturers outside the EPZ areas in Chittagong.

Industry sources say the apparel business began in the port city back in 1978 through Desh Garments Ltd. Moreover, the first, and the largest, Export Processing Zone is situated in Chittagong.

There was a time when the apparel sector used to earn 40% of its total export income from Chittagong. However, the contribution has now plummeted to a meagre 15%.

The entrepreneurs attribute the sharp decline to multiple reasons, including gas and electricity crisis, absence of an industrial village outside the EPZ and the astronomical price of land in Chittagong.

According to the BGMEA, some 450 industrial units in Chittagong are now operational employing around 500,000 workers.

“The apparel factories of Chittagong are plagued with manifold problems. The factories should be relocated to a special zone as most of the garment factories of the premier port city are not purpose-built ones.

“This is one of the reasons for which the apparel manufacturers are facing stiff challenge in maintaining compliance stipulated by the Accord and the Alliance – the two separate platforms of the American-Canadian and EU retailers,” said Mohammed Ferdous, vice-president of the BGMEA.

“Chittagong is a region which is blessed with a lot of potential for its unique geographical location. Around 95% of the country’s export-import activities are routed through the Chittagong Port. Factories established in Chittagong have an edge over others due to this.

“In terms of lead time, the factories set up in Chittagong could save up to five to seven days and it will eventually enhance our competitiveness in the international apparel market. We can save $1-1.5 on each unit of garment produced if we could exploit the facilities of the Chittagong Port,” Ferdous added.

Former BGMEA first vice-president Nasir Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury said the excessive price of land was also acting as deterrent for entrepreneurs. “I wanted to set up an industrial unit in Chittagong. However, I was taken aback by the huge price of land, which is Tk30 lakh per katha.”

He said: “The government can easily allocate the land of these sick industries for establishing an industrial village in Chittagong.”

Mohammed Abdus Salam, former first vice-president of the BGMEA, echoed Nasir.

“The sharp decline from 40% to 15% does not augur well for the country’s apparel industry when we have set a target to export RMG worth to $50 billion by 2021,” said Salam, who is also the chairman of the Chittagong Club.

Nasir said the government should consider allocating land for the garment estate on an urgent basis.

Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Chittagong Development Authority Chairman Abdus Salam said they would consider the proposal sincerely.

“The CDA reserves the power to acquire land anywhere in Chittagong. I have assured the apparel manufacturers that land for setting up a special zone could be acquired but it is subject to the availability of land.

“We do not have any objection to the proposal. Let’s see if the apparel entrepreneurs agree with the idea of bearing the cost of land and infrastructural development,” Salam said. 

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