Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday called upon the Bangladesh Coast Guard (BCG) to be “true friend” of the coastal people by establishing guardianship at the sea.
“The motto of the force (BCG) is ‘Guardian at Sea’ which means to establish yourself as true friend of the coastal people,” she said while addressing 28th founding anniversary function of the BCG and the BCG Day-2023 at the Coast Guard Headquarters in the capital’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.
The prime minister highly praised the Coast Guard personnel as they are standing beside the innocent and helpless people in the coastal belts by warding off many crimes.
She said her government has been working to transform the Coast Guard into a modern and up-to-date force with knowledge of information technology.
“We want our Coast Guard to be built as a developed and powerful force with knowledge of modern information technology,” she said.
The prime minister further said her government has launched Bangabandhu Satellite-1 to orbit, adding that a ground-breaking change has been made in the coast guard’s communication system by establishing its connection with the satellite.
“We can ensure our security using the digital system, (with establishing the satellite connection),” she said.
The prime minister also unveiled a newly constructed establishment of the BCG at Lakshmipur by pressing a button.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and BCG Director General (DG) Rear Admiral Ashraful Hoq Chowdhury were present at the function.
At the ceremony, the prime minister handed over Bangladesh Coast Guard medals to several BCG personnel including its director general in recognition of their glorious contribution to the force as well.
At the outset of the programme, a smartly turned out contingent of the Bangladesh Coast Guard also gave a state-salute to the prime minister.
A short video documentary on Coast Guard’s activities was screened.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has a vast shoreline along the Bay of Bengal and many rivers, adding, “You (BCG personnel) are playing a vital role in ensuring the security to our business, trade and commerce and the people (in the coastal areas).’’
The prime minister said the coast guard personnel are working tirelessly to ensure security to the ports, prevent smuggling of goods and firearms, human trafficking, piracy and illegal fishing alongside taking measures to stop sea and river pollution.
The force is also extending all cooperation to the distressed and helpless people across the coastal belts during natural calamities including cyclone, tidal-surge and flood and thus achieved confidence of the masses and established them as their “real friend”, she said.
The prime minister recalled that the coast guard personnel stood beside people during recent flood in Sylhet.
She also reminded the countrymen of the ongoing global economic recession, high inflation rate and food insufficiency due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
In this perspective, she reiterated her appeal to bring every inch of land under cultivation so that no crisis, particularly food crisis, can hit Bangladesh.
The prime minister also said when the Bangladesh economy was marching ahead at the fastest speed the Covid-19 pandemic hit hard the world economy, adding, even, when the global economy was reeling from the coronavirus, it was again smashed by the Russia-Ukraine war.
“Due to the war, the prices of everything have gone up. So, we have to exercise austerity in every sector including new constructions,” she said.
The prime minister thanked the BCG personnel for taking measures to cultivate the lands under their authority across the country.
The government is working tirelessly to enhance the capacity of the BCG through its own manpower recruitment activities and force restructuring.
“We’re going to introduce ships with high technology, maritime surveillance systems, hovercraft and high speed boats to make the force as modern and powerful,” she said.
In addition, the Coast Guard has been given approval for construction of four more OPVs (Offshore Patrol Vessels), nine replacement ships for deep sea patrol and two maritime version helicopters, she added.
Mentioning that the Awami League (AL) government has always been directly involved in the formation and development of Bangladesh Coast Guard, she said it had emerged as a force in context of a bill brought by AL in the Jatiya Sangsad in 1994 as the then opposition party.
Assuming power in 1996, she said, the AL government took a massive initiative in expanding the Coast Guard’s activities in the country’s coastal areas by providing land for its various zones, different types of vessels and building infrastructure.
Following this, she added, since 2009, various infrastructures including coastal crisis management centre, accommodation of officers and sailors of bases, officers’ mess, sailors’ quarters and administrative buildings have been constructed at Coast Guard stations and outposts in coastal and remote areas of the country.
The prime minister said the training capacity of Coast Guard’s manpower has been strengthened through establishment of its own training base “BCG Base Agrajatra” in Patuakhali region.
Sheikh Hasina said a dockyard is also being built at Gazaria in Munshiganj for the construction, repair and maintenance of the force’s vessels and ships.
She said, “We’ve consistently bolstered the strength of the Coast Guard as Awami League has been in power since 2009.”
In order to provide security to the economy and deep sea, she said plans have been taken to further increase its ships, equipment and manpower as per the vision of this force-2030 and 2041.
Recalling the initiative of Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu framed “The Territorial Waters and Maritime Zone Act” in 1974 to establish the legal rights of countrymen over the sea and marine resources.
Bangladesh is the first country in South Asia to pass such a law, she added.
Mentioning that even the United Nations (UN) formulated such law in 1982, she said until adoption of the law by the UN, the cases, not only in the region but also in Europe and other places across the globe, would have been settled down following the law enacted by Bangabandhu.
The prime minister said her government has established country’s rights on a vast maritime area after winning legal battles with neighbouring India and Myanmar maintaining friendly relations
She also reiterated her vow to transform Bangladesh into a developed, prosperous and Smart Bangladesh by 2041.