Rift in BEZA, BGMEA: No one setting up factories in garments village

This 2022 photos show the signboard of the BGMEA garments village in the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar in Mirsharai upazila of Chattogram.

The Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) received a land allotment in the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar in Mirsharai upazila of Chattogram in March 2021 to establish a garments village.

The BGMEA gave the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) about Tk 3 billion in phases. Yet, no one started building factories on it since two years of land allotment.

BEZA officials said various services including primary infrastructure, water and electricity have been ensured on the land allotted for garments village. Since several factories that enjoy these facilities in nearby areas are now at production level, members of BGMEA can set up factories in the garments village.

BGMEA leaders, however, claimed work is yet to be completed on the land allocated by BEZA to the BGMEA for setting up a garments village, and businesspersons are not interested in setting up factories unless they receive all services and entire land.

Regarding this BGMEA executive chairman Sheikh Yusuf Harun said many businesspersons lack interest in establishing factory at the proposed garments village. The remaining work on infrastructure and other services will be completed soon. If anyone doesn’t start setting up factories after that, land allocation will be revoked and if necessary, legal action will be taken.

The BGMEA first sought 500 acres of land from the BEZA to establish a garments village. BEZA and BGMEA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on 21 March 2018, but many companies didn’t show interest in receiving the land.

Three years later, the BEZA signed agreement with 41 member companies of the BGMEA on land allocation on 15 March 2021 after holding discussion in several phases. However, a company withdrew itself from the agreement and six more companies applied for land allocation later.

To date, about 277 acres of land has been allocated for the garments village in the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar and the amount of proposed investment is USD 767 million. About 100,000 jobs will be created here.

BEZA said companies deposited 25 per cent of total amount during the agreement. To date, about 55 per cent of the companies deposited half or a little over half of the amount. And no company has given the entire amount of money to take over its land.

The state of progress

The government has planned to set up 100 economic zones by 2030 to boost up the country’s economy. Of which, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar is attractive to investors because of its location and other facilities. Like the BGMEA, many local and foreign companies expressed interest to establish garments village here.

According to the latest data of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar, a total of 5,248 acres of land have so far been allocated to 144 companies. Five companies have already started their production while construction of 18 companies is progressing.

BEZA officials said land development has been completed on the major portion of the area allocated for garments village. Power connection and water supply are available. Gas connection is available with a kilometre of the area. If anyone starts building a factory, BEZA will arrange gas connection within the shortest possible time. Besides, process is underway to appoint contractor to build a connecting road.

When asked BGMEA vice president Shahidullah Azim told Prothom Alo no work including earth filling and availability of power and water has been completed yet in the land allocated for garments village. That land is still 5-6 feet below the main road.

Besides, construction cost has increased by several folds due to delay for three-four years. Taking everything into consideration, businesspersons are frustrated now, he added.

Shahidullah Azim further said, “We have given Tk 2.95 billion to the BEZA so far. They could have done many things with this. Now businesspersons are asking to return their money instead keeping it idle for long.”

BEZA to take legal action

BEZA executive chairman Sheikh Yusuf Harun told Prothom Alo, “At this state, companies that got allotted land beside main road may start working. We have taken initiative to complete the remaining work in next 5-6 months. After that, if anyone does not start bulling factory, they will face legal action that also includes revoking land allocation.”

“It is not the main task of the BEZA to revoke land allocation. We want industries are constructed in the garments village soon and the BGMEA implement its goal for acquiring the land quickly.”

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna