Rail connectivity core issue now for wooing investors

Dhaka,  Monday,   2016-09-18
Published : 18 Sep 2016, 21:50:28
New dimension to EZs

Rail connectivity core issue now for wooing investors

Munima Sultana


Government authorities have moved to establish rail connectivity with special economic zones across the country during site development to woo investors and make investment worthwhile.

Official sources said selecting the EZs depends on the cost-effectiveness of investing money in building rail connectivity and latent potential of the zones.

They said initially importance was being attached to availability of labourers from nearby areas, ensuring supply chain and export activities as priority areas in selecting an economic zone (EC) with which railway network would be developed.

Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) has already sat with Bangladesh Railway to select sites for such economic zoning from among 56 proposed ECs. Two or three names were mentioned, initially, for obtaining its opinion.

"As Bangladesh Railway is well aware of its network and infrastructure, and has specialised skill in rail-network development, we are very much dependent on its recommendations in selecting the zones," said one official, preferring not to be named.

He said the BEZA's proposed Mirersarai and Feni economic zones have been closed by the port city of Chittagong and the workers from nearby areas can easily move to the zone areas if the railway connectivity with the sites is developed.

Though BEZA is yet to develop Mirersarai and Feni EZs, the officials said importance on establishing railway network is given on grounds of getting labour from other areas for making the site areas less crowded.

The BR officials said the two sites have railway stations within short distance but there would be necessary to set up new rail tracts for establishing link.

They said the BR has already made a move to conduct a feasibility study with its own funds on viability of developing new rail connections with the two sites.

The BEZA officials said they had also proposed that the BR should find potential of selecting other EZ sites which can be connected with rails.

For example, a BEZA official said, though Jamalpur economic zone is situated in a comparatively small area and its development plan is yet to be made, its potential is deemed high to draw workers from nearby districts, including Tangail and Sherpur, for establishing agro-processing industries.

Baushi rail-station is also situated within seven or eight kilometres.

A railway official, however, said: "Site selection depends on cost of investment and benefit from it."

He said Tk 80 million is estimated as expenditure for per-kilometre rail track.

The government has formed BEZA to establish economic zones in potential areas, including in the backward and underdeveloped areas, for facilitating rapid economic growth through increased and diversified industries, employment, production and export.

It has a target to create 10 million jobs through establishing 100 EZs in next 15 years.

The officials said though a few EZs have been under development, BEZA is likely to set priority in selecting more EZs for development considering potential of establishing rail connectivity.

smunima@yahoo.com
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