The traders say that an international airport is being constructed in Cox’s Bazar. A deep sea port is under construction at Matarbari in Maheshkhali of Cox’s Bazar. The roads are also being repaired. The latest addition to this list is the construction of Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar railway.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Abu Morshed Chowdhury, president of Cox’s Bazar chamber, said the launch of the railway would mark the beginning of a multi-faceted ways of communication between Cox’s Bazar and the rest of the country. It will enable the people of this region to supply the products produced in this region easily to other parts of the country while the people of Cox's Bazar will be able to bring the products from all over the country at a much cheaper rate. The manufacturers of the products will benefit from it.

This business leader further suggests, “After the launch of the railway, an air-conditioned system should be introduced for goods transport. The economic zones and the deep sea port should be connected with the main rain line for greater benefit.”

Wheel of economy rolling

The economy in this region is expanding in two ways with the start of the construction of the new rail line. Apart from imported construction materials, locally produced materials are also being used in the construction of the 100-km rail line. All the rods, cement, sand and bricks used in the construction are locally manufactured.

Amirul Haque, managing director of Premier Cement, the company supplying cement in this project, told Prothom Alo, “In addition to ongoing mega projects in the country, our cement is being used in projects like Cox Bazar railway and airport projects. It has been possible as we use advanced technology in manufacturing and maintain the quality.”

Just as the cement, locally manufactured rods of a few companies are being used in this project as well.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Tapan Sengupta, director of BSRM, one of the rod supplying companies in this project, said BSRM is supplying rods to all major projects in the country, not just railways. He said that this was possible due to the assurance of quality, service and uninterrupted supply.

New job opportunities

The locals have also been involved in the construction work of the Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar rail line. It has created temporary jobs for the locals. Some are now dreaming of becoming small entrepreneurs.

Rahmat Ullah has set up a tea stall next to the under construction iconic railway station in Cox’s Bazar. There is another tea stall beside it. This has also been set up in recent times. Rahmutullah believes his business will flourish once the station is opened.

Same was the scenario at the Dulahazra railway station. Coachman Ahmed Hossain said, “There were only two grocery stores before the construction of the station. Now the number has increased to 15.

Construction worker Saddam Hossain said, “I used to get work 10 days a month. Now I work all the months. I have a plan to open a grocery shop after the construction work is finished. Sales at the shop will increase once the station is opened.”

Hope for multilateral development

The traders in Cox’s Bazar said tourists come to Cox’s Bazar throughout the year. However, the number of tourists is usually high between November and March. With the introduction of safe transport like railways, the number of tourists will increase even in off-season. As the number of tourists increases, so will the sales. Sales of products made by small and medium entrepreneurs will also increase. Money transactions will increase as well.

The main route to Cox’s Bazar for the tourists now is the road. The number of tourists coming by air is limited. The tourism based economy thrives mainly in the dry season. The hotel-motel based entrepreneurs are expecting tourists all the year once the railway is launched.

The major sectors of Cox’s Bazar’s economy are salt, agricultural products, fish and dried fish. The inauguration of the railway in the district will reduce the transport cost.

And if it is easy to transport agricultural products, the farmers are also likely to get good prices. The new railway line could also give some impetus to the import-export trade through the Teknaf land port.

Chattogram chamber of commerce president Mahbubul Alam told Prothom Alo that the launch of the railway would create a new field of multifaceted communication with Cox's Bazar across the country.

"For this, Cox's Bazar has to be turned into a smart city. We have to focus on creating a beautiful city by keeping the entire urban area clean. If that can be done, the benefits of the existing infrastructure including railways and airports will be fully realised," Alam added.

*This report appeared on the print and online version of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu

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