Technology, finance, PPP initiative crucial in building disaster resilient ‘Smart Bangladesh’: Speakers

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Speakers at a symposium on Saturday said that technology, finance and public-private partnership (PPP) initiative are crucial in building disaster resilient Smart Bangladesh the government envisions, reports news agency BSS.

They said this while addressing a symposium on “Private sector’s participation in disaster risk management: towards Smart Bangladesh” organised jointly by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and Strengthening Urban Public-Private Programming for Earthquake Resilience (SUPER) Project Consortium at a city hotel, said a press release.

SUPER project is a consortium initiative implemented by DCCI, ActionAid Bangladesh, United Purpose and World Vision supported by European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid.

Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayor Md. Atiqul Islam joined virtually as special guests at the programme.

Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) executive chairman Lokman Hossain Miah, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) president, Md Jashim Uddin and Department of Disaster Management director general Mijanur Rahman spoke as the guests of honour.

DCCI president Md Sameer Sattar chaired the symposium.

Speaking on the occasion, DSCC mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor said that disaster risk management strategy should be implemented through public-private partnership mode to make it more sustainable.

He also suggested for making private sector emergency operation centre (PEOC) effective. He also informed that there are some 75 wards under DSCC and each has about 400 volunteers to work.

“DSCC has already allocated increased budget for trainings and fire drills. To make Smart Bangladesh, we all need to work hand in hand,” he added.

DNCC mayor Md Atiqul Islam said that fire drills should be made mandatory at offices, homes and markets to raise awareness.

“Moreover, we don’t have underground utility service mapping and due to lack of proper GIS mapping, sometimes it becomes risky to do infrastructure related works especially on the roads,” he added.

Atiqul further said that if the canals can be re-claimed, then these would be a good source of water if any fire incident happens.

He urged the owners of commercial towers to organise frequent fire drills and ensure enough space in the tower. He also said that the government could not alone implement disaster risk management.

BIDA executive chairman Lokman Hossain Miah urged all to abide by the building code. He said, “Where there is life, there are risks. Therefore, we have to have a master plan for being a disaster resilient country.”

Terming Dhaka as the most vulnerable city in Bangladesh, Lokman said not only Dhaka, but they have brought also the whole country under a master plan. He also termed technology as a strong tool to fight against disaster as well as stressed on easy financing mechanism to face disasters.

FBCCI president Md Jashim Uddin said that in terms of businesses, the local businesses are in a competitive world. “Any disaster may harm our competitiveness in the international market,” he said. “We can’t allow our industries and employees or workers to be endangered by any disaster. We’ve to identify the risky factories and industries and thus make them ready for facing disasters,” Jashim said.

He also said that the capacity of the fire service and civil defence should be strengthened more. “There is no alternative for maintaining compliance in our industries. In that case private sector has a big role to play along with the public sector.”

Mijanur Rahman, director general, Department of Disaster Management said that the disaster risk management should be inclusive.

“Since Bangladesh is situated in a disaster prone zone, we have to be ready with adequate equipment. Technology can play a pivotal role in facing disaster risks,” he added.

He also urged the young generation to be engaged in disaster risk management system.

In his opening remarks, DCCI president Barrister Sameer Sattar said that strong public and private sector fraternity is essential to steer the much-needed disaster risk management along with a long-term master plan to safeguard the industries. He said disaster risk has far-reaching consequences on the sustainability of business where Bangladesh can offer a wide range of financial tools to enhance the financial resilience of private sector as disaster control measures.

Later, a website of private sector emergency operation centre was launched.

DCCI senior vice president SM Golam Faruk Alamgir (Arman) offered the vote of thanks.

Two parallel sessions titled ‘Disaster risk management financing strategy’ and ‘Technology in DRM towards smart Bangladesh’ were held under the symposium where related stakeholders also spoke.