Monthly Archives: November 2018

More earning from tourism

More earning from tourism –

DIFFERENT projections established tourism as the fastest growing service industry in the world with good prospects in a large number of countries apart from the handful of countries that presently draw a maximum number of tourists. Hence, it has the potential to experience a boom from a wave of first time visitors. Besides, it has many places of attractions for the tourists.

One big reason for Bangladesh actually receiving a much lesser number of international tourists than it should is the lack of publicity regarding its tourism attractions. The government’s tourism promotion body, the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC), has been rather ineffectual in launching and sustaining a campaign in the international tourism circuits about the pleasures of tourism in the country. The commercial wings of the diplomatic missions of the country could play a useful role in this area.

It is imperative to good the BPC and the foreign missions to take up regular tourism related promotional activities. Bangladesh can earn notably bigger amount from tourism than its present earnings and the same can be of much support to its economy when its few export items like ready made garments and shrimps are facing adverse competition. Investment in this sector can be quite gainful. Investors in the domestic sectors of the Bangladesh economy are in search of sound investment areas. It is one area where the returns on investment can be attractive. Domestic tourism in the country, of late, has been showing sharp uptrend’s and the investors can exploit this business opportunity by adopting innovative ways.

Tourist resorts of international standard can be built in the country’s offshore islands and coastal areas. Private sector investors need to be encouraged by the relevant ministry to take up such projects. The government, on its part, can build supportive infrastructures in these potentially lucrative sites and in other areas leading to them so that the investors find it worth their while to take up projects in these areas.

Expansion of this sector is important because it will create jobs and demand for construction materials and other goods and services. Locally, around the tourist sites many services are likely to sparing up. This in turn, is likely to create jobs and economically gainful activities on a bigger scale.

In order to provide back up to the initiatives of private entrepreneurs in the tourism field, the government will have to relax its present outdated rules that deny foreign tourists many of the things they take for granted in countries. Where it has flourished. Extreme rigidity in the selling of alcoholic drinks and allowing of night life that are integral part of tourism internationally, discourage foreign tourists from coming to Bangladesh in increasing number. Therefore, it would be only sensible to drop such prohibitions in an around the tourists spots or at least in tourist spots designed exclusively for the foreign travelers.

Quality of bus service

Quality of bus service

Improved bus service has been encouraged in Dhaka City for the last several years to facilitate easier and comfortable travel. A World Bank aided project contributed specially to this end and a number of private bus companies sprig up in the period with the aim of providing better bus services to people. The companies started off by rendering good services at the outset and sustaining the quality services. However, these services are declining much to the dismay, annoyance and inconveniences of passengers.

It appears that private bus service that earned distinction such as Premium, Nirapad, and to some extent even the state run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) service have deteriorated in quality. The carrying of limited number of passengers against one seat, etc that has been the distinctive features of these services are seen violated frequently nowadays. Besides, the buses are let our for private trips and the like that causes shortages of vehicles in city services which in turn much increase travel time as schedules of services cannot be maintained.

Therefore, people who have developed the habit of using these services cannot think of an alternative, feel that they are being exploited. The fares charged by these exclusive bus companies, except the state operated BRTC one, are substantially higher than that charged by the ordinary services.

Bus services were promoted in Dhaka with the hope that this form of travel would fast gain acceptance among different categories of commuters in the city. This would reduce dependence on rickshaws and tree wheeler such as baby taxis that create jams and are environmentally hazardous respectively. People’s response to the new bus services was also good. The authorities, thus, are requested to give their attention to pulling up the standards of bus services in the city.

Drive against old cars & vehicles

DRIVE against cars & vehicles which are old and in dilapidated condition has been launched in the capital from the New Year’s Day as many of them though don’t have any fitness certificates used to ply freely on the city roads creating much inconvenience to the traveling people and polluting the environment. As many as eight thousand motor vehicles of different categories would be restricted following implementation of the government decision putting ban on Ping of above 20- years-old buses, mini-buses, tempos auto-rickshaws and 25-year-old trucks in the city.
The drive is going to create, no doubt, good impact in the transport system many of the vehicles which are not fit for carrying passengers went off the cit roads yesterday following the drive launched by the police. At least 30 per cent of the total 
cars & vehicles of different types of categories went off the streets apparently giving a much more comfortable look and an eased situation for the city traffic which remained congested earlier. Though the move caused some inconvenience to the traveling people on the first day as many of them had to wait in long queues to catch a bus for returning home after attending the office but they expect that the problem would be resolved by putting in more good and new buses in different city routes.
The police along with the officials of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), the official body to look after the fitness of the vehicles, started checking the transports from the first day of the New Year in the
city. The drive has been launched following directives from the highest authority of the Awamiligue Government to streamline the transport system and make the city free from pollution as part of its 100-day action plan.
The obvious question arises how all these old cars & vehicles which were not fit could ply on the city roads with ‘fitness” papers. Alleged corruption helped many o the owners get fitness certificates and there had been no checking of the vehicles. Both BRTA and police also must be Strict in discharging their responsibilities reposed on them in this regard. Collective and sincere 
efforts, obviously, of all will help improve the situation and create the condition for comfortable traveling in the city without any pollution and congestion.

Can Asia junk cars for bicycles and buses

Can Asia junk cars for bicycles and buses?

Sprawling mega cities from Bangkok and Manila to Jakarta and New Delhi Must curb over reliance on the privately-owned car to decongestant increasingly clogged streets and create more livable cities.

But urbanizes, incessantly plaued by traffic jams, should be offered fast and efficient transport alternatives, bus, light rail, subway, bicycles to wean them away from their cars.

“Developing a mass transit system, with its effective use of space and lower per passenger pollution levels,” is a top priority option for the 21st century, says an Oxford University publication: World Resources 1996-97.

The caress urban poor rely on buses as their transport Choice because of affordable fares. Buses can carry as many as 80 passengers during peak hours. Yet, they take up space of no more than two cars.

In 1980, an estimated 600 million trips daily were made buses in developing world. This figure will double by year 2000, World Resources cautions.

“As long as buses run on the same congested streets as other vehicles, they will never be an attractive alternative for those who can afford a car, “the study says. It proposes the option of creating a dedicated bus lane” to increase bus ridership. Such a lane “can move twice as many people per hour as buses operating in mixed traffic and 40 times as many people per hour as cars.”

This system of combining exclusive bus lanes and high-speed network already has a track record of considerable success in: Curitiba, Brazil; Abidjan in cote d’Ivoire; plus, Ottawa and Ontario in Canada. These have proved flexible in serving low to medium density urban areas.

But bus services in Asia’s metropolises fall far from this standard. Unconformable and unreliable in Asia. They also tend to be noisy and polluting.

World Resources insists on regular maintenance to help improve their safety and reduce emissions.

In dense Asian cities like Manila, the light rail transit has become another increasingly attractive and viable transport alternative to city residents. Bangkok’s LRT is nearing completion.

Terms and trolleys can move more people 6,000 per hour in mixed traffic and up to 36,000 people per hour with five or six car trains. They consume fearless energy and emit fewer pollution.

Subways can also decongestant crammed city streets. They promise high mobility and can be built under valuable urban land and are less polluting.

“Subways are not for sleeping” Construction operating and maintenance costs are heavy about $40 million per kilometer in Santiago, Chile, $64 million in Osaka, Japan and $ 117 million in Caracas, Venezuela. In comparison, a surface light rail system in Tunis, Tunisia cost only $29 million per kilometer.

“Cities should resist temptations to per sure flashy advanced technology solutions when lower cost approaches such as buses might be adequate” the study says.

Existing public transit service can be upgraded. Bus service could be privatized and deregulated. In SriLanka, deregulation allowed bus owners to compete with the public bus company substantially improving service coverage and quality.

Informal transit services such as the jeepney in Manila, the kabus-kabus in Lagos, Nigeria and dolmus minibuses in Ankara, Turkey should be integrated into existing transport system since they cater to the urban poor, World Resources adds. Their trips are more frequent. And their small size allows them to maneuver through narrow, winding streets.

“Bicycling and walking” the study notes, “are often the only means of transportation available to the poor in many urban areas particularly in Asia.” More than half of the world’s 800 million bicycles are estimated to be in Asia. China, where 50 to 80% of urban trips are by bicycles, has more than 300 million.

Bicycles can boost public transport services by linking outlying settlements with public transit routes.

Thousands of bicycles parked outside train stops are common sight in Beijing and New Delhi.

Governments need actively promote bicycle commuting by offering subsidies to those cycling to work and allocating extensive and separate urban street space to bicycle traffic. In Havana, Cuba bicycles helped reduce car traffic by 35% and bus traffic by 50%, world Resources notes.

Where urban populations grow rapidly, demand for transportation skyrockets. And cities need to reexamine urban transportation demand and devise new strategies that provide maximum access at a minimum total, cost study concludes.

Communication and Transport

Communication and Transport

The airports at Bangkok and Singapore are stretched to their seams. Dhaka should be in a position to handle diverted international traffic. But that would require, better airport services and facilities, urgent conversion of Chittagong airport into an international one; and upgrading Sylhet airport to handle non-resident Bangladeshi traffic from the United Kingdom.

A ADEQUATE infrastructural facilities for power, telecommunication and transport are essential prerequisites for economic growth. I have written about elusive energy and the lagging telecommunication services in this column earlier. Today, I shall write about the need for efficient communication and multiple forms of transport, so necessary for moving not just people but also industrial freight along an inter modal network. What follows is basically an effort at collating analytical materials from knowledge sources and it borrows extensively from a long run prospective study, namely, Bangladesh 2020.

A major transformation that is gaining momentum in Bangladesh is the pace of urbanization. Bangladesh has essentially been a rural country with four out of five inhabitants living in the countryside. By the year 2020 nearly every other child woman and man will live in an urban center. Given past and present trends. Greater Dhaka as a mega-city will grow by more than double in terms of population, with the port city of Chittagong closely following.

Urbanization will be squared along the Tongi-Joydebpur Gazipur corridor with new road and perhaps computer train link between Dhaka-Joydebpur. Road improvements will facilitate urban development along the Sripur-Bhaluka-Gafargaon-Trisal-Mymensingh corridor. Further if a road bye pass and commuter train as well link Dhaka-comilla-Feni Chitagong with the northern corridor, Tongi-Joydebpur-Gazipur in particular, that will reduce pressure on Dhaka city and more importantly integrate nortern districts with the economic hub of the south.

Commissioning of Bangabandhu bridge over the river Jamuna will enhance the importance of Rajshahi metropolitan area as a regional center of the western districts. New physical links between eastern and northern frontier states of India coupled with the conservation of the single-track railway along Sirajganj-Ishwardi-Rajshahi to a double line broad-gauge railway and the proposed meter gauge railway along Sirajganj-Bogra will further augment the importance of Rajshahi metropolitan area and the growth of other urban centers in the western districts, namely, Nawabganj, Bogra, Naogaon, Sirajganj, Joypurhat and Natore. Similarly, districts towns in the northwest like Gaibanda, Nilphamari, Kurigram, Dinajpur and Lalmonirhat will also blossom, if the regional transport-links are there.

Another important consideration for decentralized urbanization for decentralized urbanization is the growth of thousands of market-towns, the most important prerequisite being investment in trans portation infrastructure. World Bank’s Rural Infrastructure Study (1996) has identified 2100 of such growth centers.

Within this spatial scenario of urbanization, it is important to upgrade the road network linking divisional district Thana and market town centers. Such improvement will greatly help the private sector to take over inter-city passenger traffic thus allowing the railway system to reorganize itself into a predominantly freight moving profile.’ Also important is to expedite improvement is to expedite improvement of standard of major highways as has been done in the case of Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar road link.

Another urgent task is the construction of Dhaka by-pass, connecting the south with the North and North and Northwest through the Bangabandhu bridge. It is worth remembering that as and when the Asian Highway is completed, this historic bridge will bear the traffic passing through Bangladesh. And that presupposes considerable expansion and upgrading of existing roads and highways.

A proposed bridge over the Ganges at Paksey will open up the Mongla port for commercial/industrial freight from Nepal and Bhutan. A happy announcement by no less a leader than the prime Minister of Bangladesh herself regarding a bridge over Padma will not only bring the eastern and southern parts of the country together, but also halve the distance between Dhaka and Khulna. Mongla port will be in real business then.

Again, as the document Bangladesh 2020 notes: “some medium scale bridges such as one over Meghna at Bhairab Bazar, one over Rupsa at Khulna and one over Karnaphully at Chittagong could bring nearly all parts of country under a single roads and highways network. Especially as a participant in improving the urban network including some urban network including some urban bypasses such as the one east of Dhaka city on a BOT basis for instance the private sector can become a major player Bangladesh’s transport network,”

Let me now make a transition from roads to railway.

Exclusively state owned, the ledger book of Bangladesh Railways has been heavily in the red. An encouraging initiative by the government is to progressively hand over passenger traffic in inter-city routes like Dhaka -Chittagong, Dhaka – Sylhet and Dhaka-Rajshahi to the private sector. Why not handover the maintenance of inter-city trains to private operators? What is important for future, however, is to restructure the profile of the railways for freight traffic, especially container transport. In that context, improvement of critical routes like Dhaka-Chittagong to handle high volume of traffic rapidly and reliably is most urgent.

Also, in the context of the Trans Asian Railway routes, Bangladesh is in a strategic location. The two possible routes, so far envisaged, are through Sylhet and through Cox’s Bazar. The routes will connect Southeast Asia-Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore-with India and Central Asia. If Bangladesh upgrades its existing railways to international standard, she can earn enviable revenues.

Again, as between meter gauge in the east and a combination of broad and meter gauge to the west of the Jamuna bridge, there is a similar division between South east Asia (meter) and south and Central Asia (broad). “Bangladesh” as the 2020 document notes,” is thus well positioned to develop a hub to switch gages at Sirajganj on land to be reclaimed along the western guide bund” of the bridge.

Having said all that, let me turn to the cheapest and traditional water transport. With waterways of 25.000 kilometer, it is naturally so. But due to heavy situation coming down from the upper reaches, lack of dredging and river-training, the water ways are severely hindered and sometimes a deathly menace. But planned development with both private and public initiatives can make that a blessing, rather than a curse. The ten inland ports in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Chandpur, Barisal, Patuakhali, Khulna, Narsingdi, Bhairab Bazar, Azmiriganj and Baghabari, need immediate improvement and upgrading Some of the ports such as Dhaka, Narayanganj, Chandpur, Baghabari and Asmiriganj should be developed as container ports with private sector participation. Some of the trunk routes such as Ajmiriganj – Chandpur, Baghabari- Chilmari should be maintained on a priority basis.” The coasted regions need to be connected with the rest of the country by rapid and reliable transport.

The greatest opportunity, however, lies in Chittagong port as the gateway for regional freight – traffic for destinations abroad. But what is the current state of the art in that dismal port ? “Moving a container through Chittagong costs $600 compared to norms of $ 150 to $300 at neighboring ports. Bangladesh’s competitiveness is so compromised by such in efficiency that the costs to the economy were estimated at $100 million in 1995 and are expected to reach about $170 million per year by 1999. The forecast for container throughout is as follows:

1999        395,000 TEU

2005        554,000 TEU

2010        737,000 TEU

2020        780,000 TEU

An examination of existing capacities and future growth of container traffic suggest that the optimum solution might be to develop the existing container facilities using the private sector (Bangladesh 2020, UPL 1998)”

Mongla port, as mentioned earlier can handle bulk freight. Another possible option is a deep-sea port at the mouth of Shibsa, south of Mongla.

Turning from land and water to the yonder blue of wide-open sky, the golden eagle for Bangladesh is state-owned Biman. Lack of adequate fleet, factionalism and apathy have plagued the services in the past. A welcome initiative has been the induction of private operators in selected domestic routes, More scope remains including leasing out of unused airports (e.g, Shamsernagar or Thakurgaon) to private enterprise for operation and maintenance. Also, and perhaps more important is to corporatize and progressively privatize Bitman. An important first step is to bring professional management and appropriate strategic partners. Only thus, the national airline can cope with rising passenger and cargo-traffic, particularly on international routes, so important for an outward looking and growing economy.

Also, today, the airport at Bangkok and Singapore are stretched to their seams. Dhaka should be in a position to handle diverted international traffic. But that would require, better airport services and facilities, urgent conversion of Chittagong airport into an international one; and upgrading Sylhet airport to handle non-resident Bangladesh traffic from the United Kingdom Again, private sector investment and management expertise are much needed. Let us be nationalistic but not parochial.

In the end, I recall the verses that Amit Ray recited to Labanya in Shesher Kavita.

“পথ বেঁধে দিল বন্ধনহীন গ্রন্নি

আমরা দুজন চলতি হাওয়ায় পন্থী।”


Life in Dhaka

Keep it Covered!

By A Husnain

The traffic jams are just the effect of a cause: too many users of some limited space, and lack of control to regulate the flow. The drains and the roads are designed for similar purpose: to keep the flow flowing there is no static system in life, municipal or otherwise.

Dhaka is living up to its name. Dhaka in Bangla means covered. A lot of activities in Dhaka are kept covered. Cable TV fans are familiar with this song ‘parda may rahne do, parda no outha-o; parda uthne say raaz khul jaa-e gi”, Which means do not lift the curtain, otherwise many secrets would be out. In Bengali the short expression is `Dhaka thaak’ (kept covered). Let us indulge in some benevolent spying, in public interest.

In your home street, did you ever brother to notice whether the road has any drain by the side, or on both sides of the road? The question is like asking you whether you are aware you are breathing. It is simply presumed that such facilities exist, because it is part of standard design after the planning stage.

In the Mohammadpur residential area, it will be noticed that most of roads, except some major ones, do not have drains on one or both sides. Where the rain-water is supposed to go? Surely the plans for the residential areas where approved keeping provision for drains.

Therefore it is not surprising that, metaphorically and otherwise, we collect a lot of garbage in our social and community life, visible and invisible, and grumble all the more because no outlets have been designed into the social and municipal systems of our society (say, the provision of a drain by the road-side, and garbage bins which over fill too quickly and clearance which is always too late).

The same logic applies for democratic outlets- a favorite issue with the politicians, in and out of season. Communication assumes a 2-way facility what is the name of one-way communication? The sun communicates one way.

The issue in not drains, but the availability of drainage system in the society for providing different types of outlets, whether in degree or kind. That includes the labor unions and the CBAs, as we are vastly experienced on the nuisance value of this right, which, most of the time, tries to go left or out of control.

The traffic jams are just the effect of a cause: too many users of some limited space, and lack of control to regulate the flow. The drains and the roads are designed for similar purpose: to keep the flow flowing. There is no static system in life, municipal or otherwise.

Let us look at some opposite effects. A large number of new multi-storied shopping complexes have come up in different localities of the metropolis. The shops inside cannot claim to be doing roaring business, due to low purchasing power of the vast majority of the shoppers hence the footpath hawkers have more customers per hour. The shops inside the buildings have more shop assistants than customers most of the time.

This trend can be explained through the supply and demand equations. The strong point is siphoning the surplus cash in the pocket, and the weak point is cheap and crude imitation of marketing and sales techniques.

As for money (paisa), there is a timeless rule: easy, easy go. Hard earned money is thoughtfully spent. Bargaining is a national pastime in the East- hence if the prices are ‘fixed’ then it is fishy (daal may kala hai).

The posh air-conditioned shops stock so many items of foreign consumer goods, in a country where the average earning per head is around 250 dollars per annum. It has more to do with human nature than economics or patriotism.

During the mid- 1960s, once while I was shopping in Tokyo, a Japanese shopper asked me how was my Japanese shopper asked me how was my Japanese SLR camera which I was carrying (it was top class and not expensive) the Yen being around 350 to the dollar, if I recall correctly). It took japan one more decade to capture the world markets with quality goods. During that period of recovery from the effects of the world war which ended in 1945, the Japanese usually preferred the top brand names of foreign goods, such as Zeiss cameras and parker pens.

The same trend could be observed in Malaysia during the 1980s, even when her growth rate was above eight percent year after year (the financial crash was not that unpredictable to the regular visitors) It is a passing syndrome of development: the grass appears greener on the other side. Trying to keep up with the Japanese might bring about a national crash, the Asian Tigers warm us.

Dhaka means covered, drains should be kept covered, befitting the name of the world’s tenth largest city: otherwise we seek alibis and start blaming the polythene shopping bags, instead of castigating the municipal garbage and drain cleaners thousands are employed but very few brothers about the households who throw the garbage around? Don’t believe in Dhaka, to say the least!

The unauthorized tool collection is Dhaka (covered), The back doors are also covered. As for the front door, it if open and transparent, but there is nothing much to reveal or display formally. That’s saying a lot. Dhaka is dense, but smart.

The charm of Baldha Garden

The charm of Baldha Garden –

Located in the middle of busy and busting area of the old part of the Dhaka city. The Baldha Garden, covering an area of 3.36 acres of land contains rich and unique collection of indigenous and exotic plants and trees . It is one of the city’s most exciting attractions for naturalist and tourist. The garden started in 1909. It was founded by Babu Narayan Roy Chowdhury a naturalist. Philanthropist …..of Baldha Garden. It has …of walled….Nowab street at wari. The units are authentically named ‘Psyche ( the soul) and “Cybele”) the mother of goddess of nature) The Psyche is the earlier construction completed in 1936; Cybele was started in 1938 and completed in 1940…………………..did not improve. The garden was then handed over to the government in 1962. The forest department then under took a development scheme for renovation in the garden. This helped somewhat in importing the past glory of the garden. Many of these are exotics and more plants about 50 different countries of the world. They represent varied climatic zones and many of them have been cultured and ….in the garden un…artificial conditions. The plant collection in the garden may be classified under seven main groups namely. i) The orchids. Ii) The cactus iii) the conservatory plants v) The roses vi) The rockery and wall plants and vii) The arbooreturn and nature cellaneous flora. Some of main features of these …are noted below.

The orchids: The garden houses more than two thousand orchids covering fifth genera and fifty specie. Indigenous and exotic…Continued efforts are tiredly being made to ….the stock through collection of more indigenous exotic species.

The cacil: The garden…..the country’s rich collection of cacti. There more than two hundred trees of each in the garden cover nine generas. The …are mostly of Mexican Arizonan origin; Most of …..blossom at night in different colors shape size and as such to a visitor the ……a great experience …..visitor in February may come across a beautiful golden foligated …cactus variety which different from the local cacti whose pink red flowers look like. These are the famed Llias that inspired the Bengali poet. Rabindranath Tagore during his visit the garden in the twenties of his famous poem …….was born.

….a  conservatory plants: …are large groups of which grow in special environmental conditions. Plant grows in shades. Some on floors, Some in moist humid sites. Again. There are plants in the garden which do not even belong to the tropics. These plants, therefore, are being reared under special conditions in different plant houses including four green houses, two in psyche and two in Cybele.

Aquntic plants. There are about 150 lily ponds and lotus tanks in the garden and in summer when the lilies and the lotus are in full.

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