Conference on Future Bangladesh, Future Chittagong:Global Port Needs A Global City
Sitting at the crossroads of regional connectivity with the South and Southeast Asia, Chittagong needs to be developed fast to feed the economic growth of the country, a two-day conference hosted as part of The Daily Star's Odommo Chattagram initiative was told yesterday (Saturday).
Visionary plans and goodwill are essential to develop the city into global standard as it has the potential to become the regional connectivity hub as well as effective gateway for landlocked southern Asia including North Eastern India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Southern China.
Once the necessary developments are implemented the port city could be a key-driver of the country's sound development and economic growth.
Such observations and hopes came from the discussants of the inaugural ceremony of the two-day economic conference titled "Future Bangladesh, Future Chittagong: A Global Port Needs a Global City'' initiated by The Daily Star as part of its 12-day festival 'Odommo Chattagram'.
Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) are assisting the conference.
"Chittagong has the power to become Penang or Singapore. But we are sick and tired of Chittagong people have to go to Dhaka. We are sick and tired of Dhaka centric development. Our rights have not been recognised as the commercial capital," said Salahuddin Kashem Khan, Trustee Secretary of AK Khan Foundation. "To build Chittagong into a regional of excellence, we need to make united efforts."
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, former advisor to the caretaker government and Coordinator of Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) Chittagong Research Initiative, said despite inadequate attention to the development of the port city, it serves as an important lifeline for the country.
Zillur said Chittagong, with an expanded and developed sea port that carries 80% of country's exports and imports, was a city of 25 billion dollar economy in 2010.
The city which accounts for 40 per cent of heavy industries activities of the country, internationally competitive EPZ, has a huge prospect with emerging industries drivers like ship-building, steel and tourism.
Referring to the future prospects if the city Zillur said the city has much potential like implementation of Deep sea-port, regional connectivity hub, potential gateway for landlocked southern Asia.
The city would be a vital actor in the new maritime bonanza, he said.
He sought a collaborative initiative of the civil society and the business people of Chittagong for its development.
Terming a number of mid sized cities as the key-driver of global growth Zillur said Chittagong has such potential as its economic competitiveness will be the key to faster growth of the country.
Zillur said Chittagong's attractiveness in terms of quality of life should be improved to stop migration of talents to the capital.
Regarding the targets till 2030, Dr Zillur said Chittagong should be a city of 60 billion dollar economy by 2030.
He also said the management in the Chittagong Port should be upgraded to global standards and the city should be turned into a global one to complement the global port.
Zillur said a global port could not coexist to an under-developed city.
Chittagong has most promising initial conditions to ensure success of decentralized vision and the city can achieve success in this regard it would inspire other regional successes, he hoped.
Speaking as chief guest, Environment Minister Hasan Mahmud said though Chittagong was the second important city after Kolkata in British India its importance started to get reduced since 1960s with urbanization process centering Dhaka.
The minister urged all to come forward with good will for the development of the port city keeping aside all political differences and divisions.
He observed that Chittagong would be most beneficiary with the new maritime boundary which is full of maritime resource.
Minister said CDA is setting up a flyover at Bahadderhat area and government is thinking to set up more flyovers in the city. Mentioning about the Mumbai city of India he said media changed the image of the city. He hoped CTV would play a significant role to develop the image of the port city.
Member of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Commerce MA Latif MA Latif blamed lack of foresightness, knowledge and visionary planning by the political leaders and bureaucrats for not taking initiative for Chittagong's proper development.
The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam said Chittagong has made some tremendous contribution to the global economy such as high quality ships and apparels. People have to be made aware of its economic power.
CCCI President Murshed Murad Ibrahim who chaired the inaugural session said Chittagong's has a long history as a centre of export as it first shipped goods to Germany in 1800.