Narayanganj, May 30 (UNB) - Unscrupulous bus owners in the district have refurbished their old and unfit buses to operate those during the mad rush of Eid-ul-Fitr, caring little about the safety and security of holidaymakers.
Every year, thousands of people who leave capital Dhaka and its adjacent districts to celebrate Eid with the families in their village homes face this trouble due to inadequate public transport.
Taking advantage of the situation, bus owners repair their unfit vehicles to carry passengers, defying the risk of fatal accidents.
During a visit to Narayanganj Central Bus Terminal, the UNB correspondent found at least 10 unfit and worn-out buses were getting prepared for plying roads during Eid.
Talking to the correspondent, some transport owners said as there is huge rush during three days before and after Eid, they repair their old vehicles to meet the additional demand of passengers.
“Taking advantage of the situation, bus owners make brisk business using their old and unfit buses,” said garment worker Harun Miah.
“One of such unfit bus had gone out of operation on Dhaka-Chattogram Highway during our Eid journey to Noakhali last year, triggering a long tailback on the highway and causing unbearable sufferings to us,” Nurul said.
Babul Hossain, a bus painter of the central bus terminal area, said, “They’ve to face huge pressure of work during Eid every year and there’s no exception this year, too.”
Engine mechanic Yasin Miah said they have to work round the clock during Eid every year as they have to complete the huge work at least a week ahead of Eid.
Turning down the allegation, Moktar Hossain, president of Narayanganj Bus-Minibus Owners Association, said, “There’s no scope of operating unfit busses as the administration is on alert to check irregularities.”
But, Rafiur Rabbi, convener of Passengers Rights Protection Forum, alleged that the owners are doing such illegal facelift work with the help of some dishonest officials of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA). “It’s possible to stop plying such unfit vehicles if the BRTA officials and administration become strict,” he added.
This illegal practice is going on amid the alarming increase in road accidents across the country.
Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity, a passengers’ welfare association, on January 25 claimed that some 7,221 people were killed in at least 5,514 road accidents across the country in 2018 alone.
Some 15,466 others were injured in the accidents, they said.
Jashore, May 29 (UNB) – The buildings of 147 primary schools in the district have been declared vulnerable, leaving their students at risk of accident anytime.
On April 8, the Primary and Mass Education Ministry asked the district primary education officers to identify very risky buildings of government primary schools across the country and inform it.
The government move came after a Class-III student was killed and three more were injured as the ceiling of a govt primary school collapsed on them in Taltali upazila of Barguna on April 6.
As per the ministry’s instruction, the District Primary Education (DPE) office took the initiative to identify the risky school buildings here.
It found 147 out of total 2,285 buildings as vulnerable, said Sheikh Ohidul Alam, district primary education officer.
However, students continue to attend classes in those shabby buildings amid the risk of accident as there is no alternative.
According to the DPE office, there are 41 risky primary school buildings in Sharsha upazila while 18 in Sadar, three in Abhaynagar, four in Keshabpur, 12 in Chaugachha, 25 in Jhikargachha, 15 in Bagherpara and 29 in Manirampur upazila.
Shafiqul Islam, head teacher of Madanpur Primary School in Manirampur upazila, said they have been running their academic activities in the dilapidated building for the last 4-5 years amid risk as they could not arrange any alternative.
He said they lodged complaints with the upazila primary education officer on several occasions but there has been no response. “If the school building is not renovated immediately, there might be accident anytime,” he said.
Farhad Hossain, headmaster of Nalia Govt Primary School in Sadar upazila, said his school, built in 1921, is now in a very shabby condition.
He said they informed the authorities concerned of it several times, but there has been no remedy.
The district primary education officer said the list of risky school buildings in the district has been sent to the ministry. “The school buildings will be renovated in the 2019-20 fiscal year,” he said.
Dhaka, May 28 (UNB) - As Eid-ul-Fitr, the most celebrated religious festival of the country approaches, throngs of shoppers have spiked up both online and offline shopping zones.
People of all ages are cramming the markets till midnight in many cases to finish their shopping for Eid. Those who want to avoid the hassle of visiting the bricks-and-mortar outlets are probably finding out for the first time this year that they are heading online with the help of e-commerce.
Visiting different areas of the capital, including New Market, Elephant Road, Gulistan, Polwell supermarket, Mouchak, Moghbazar, and Bashundhara City Shopping Complex, UNB correspondents found that overall most vendors are satisfied with their pace of sales.
The capital’s New Market is a long-standing go-to for middle- and small-income families for Eid shopping. Along with it, nearby Gausia and Chandni Chawk shopping centers were seen brimming with shoppers on a recent evening.
One of the proprietors at Chandni Chawk, Abdul Halim told UNB that there have seen immense growth in sales over the past week.
“As we have brought new supplies, we’ve been selling in large numbers. All types of clothing for men and women are selling like hotcakes,” he said.
Another shopkeeper, Shamim Hossain, expressed his hope that the momentum behind sales will continue till the Eid day.
Eid is, of course, synonymous with new clothes, and that is reflected in the most popular items being sold, mainly Punjabis for men, but also shirts and trousers, while women are purchasing three-pieces, saree and Indian-Pakistani dresses of various types alongside shoes, cosmetics, and household items.
Inside Gausia Market, a shopkeeper named Harun told UNB that selling at a cheaper rate than other markets in the capital is the reason why customers keep coming throughout the month of Ramadan.
Hawkers on the streets have also garnered handsome incomes for themselves by selling their products of questionable quality, although their prices also reflect that, meaning there is a place for them too.
One such hawker, Ataur Rahman, said they do not need to pay any extra amount for shop rent and other costs hence they can sell clothes and other products at an even cheaper price.
The sheer range of items available in the capital even draws customers from outside Dhaka. Afsana Azad from Narayanganj said at times of Eid, products can be bought at a cheaper rate from New Market area.
“There are many tempting dresses and cosmetics here at an affordable price. Also, the scope of bargaining brings that price even lower,” she said. However, she criticised the unhealthy environment and lack of public safety in the markets, with pickpockets on the prowl, she said.
Similar to other hotspots for Eid shopping, clothing, shoes, cosmetics are the main selling products in the city’s premium shopping mall, Bashundhara Shopping Complex, alongside smartphones and other accessories, said the vendors.
Different fashion houses and brand outlets have brought clothing of new design and at different price-brackets to fit the buyers need. Every store is trying to draw customers by offering handsome deals and discounts.
Salman Ahmed, a salesperson of Plus Point clothing store told UNB the sales have been much better for the past 3-4 days.
“The market sees customers in large numbers after midday until the closure. We are expecting another boost in sales after 25th Ramadan,” he said.
Another salesperson of Ecstasy, Adnan Alam, said the brand is offering a guaranteed 20 percent discount upon payment via bKash.
Fashion Brands Richman and Infinity are offering a 10 percent discount through online purchase of clothes such as shirts, Punjabis, trousers and various dresses for ladies.
Wahid Ahmed, a private university student, said he bought a pair of shoes for about taka 2400 because product quality and family’s happiness is his main concern.
However, he alleged that the asking prices in the shops are set irrationally high compared to other months.
Md Shaheedul Hasan Shaheed, a proprietor of Golden Gallery at Polwel Super Market, said that they have been supplying their imported products across the country since Shab-e-Barat adding that they have started retail sales also.
Another Md Obaidur Rahman, proprietor of S-T-S Enterprise claimed that business is not good following increasing import cost in various ways.
“Although the number of importers has increased here, they do not get customers as their expectation,” he said.
Hasnat Al Mehedi, one of the customers of the market said as per tradition he buys Punjabi every year for Eid day. This year he bought an embroidered Punjabi at Tk 1700.
Polwel Super Market Shop Owner’s Association President A Kayum Talukder Moni said increased tax rate has reportedly cost them more for importing products.
“We sell genuine imported products here and pay tax regularly. We need to pay around Tk 400 for a pair of pants and Tk 350 for a T-shirt. Besides, there is some import complexity including port delivery altogether forcing the customers to buy brand products at a higher price than expected,” he said.
He said this increase in price tends to drive the customers away.
“Our wholesale business has begun from Shab-e-Barat. Now retail products will be sold until Eid,” he added.
Khadija Rahman, chief designer of Taaga Man, a subsidiary of Aarong, said they have brought new collections this year namely children clothing and Punjabi for men.
“We make products targeting middle-income customers,” she added.
Khadija further said they are getting a good response from customers being a local brand.
“Punjabis at the range of Tk 2000 -Tk 5000 are the most popular to customers,” she added.
This year, online shopping has started gaining serious momentum ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr amid its growing popularity with the boom in internet penetration across the country.
According to Abdul Wahid Tomal, General Secretary of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), e-shopping marked a 30 percent growth this year as the number of social media users, particularly Facebook, has also sharply increased in both urban and rural areas.
An increasing number of people, mostly city dwellers, are choosing e-shopping to save time as well as avoid traffic chaos and other hazards of Eid Shopping.
Satkhira, May 28 (UNB) – Buoyed by their success over the last three years, farmers here are all set to export mangoes produced in the district to the Europe this year, too.
Deputy Director of the district office of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) Arvinda Biswas said they have set a target to export 200 tonnes of mangoes of Himsagar, Langra and Amrupali varieties to European markets this season.
The mango export will begin within a couple of days, said sources at the local DAE office.
Mango consignments to the tune of 37 tonnes, 121 tonnes and 200 tonnes were dispatched to the Europe from the district in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Arvinda said they specially nurtured a total of 14,451 trees in the district to produce high quality mangoes to meet the export target.
He said the plucking of Himsagar, Langra mangoes of other varieties has already started while it will take 10 days to get Amrupali.
Himsagar is a delicious mango variety which got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag as the third Bangladeshi product after Hilsa and Jamadani.
The DAE official said farmers have been asked not to collect immature mangoes and refrain from using any kind of chemical.
This year, mangoes were produced on a total of 4,100 hectares of land in the district with a production target of 47,000 tonnes, he said.
Farmers have already started marketing Gobindavog and Gopalvog mangoes, and the local markets, including Sultanpur Barabazar, Tala, Patkelghata, Nalta, Parulia, Kaliganj and Kolaroa, are abuzz with mangoes.
Ishaque, a mango trader of Satkhira municipality, said, “Wholesale mango traders from across the country are thronging different local markets to procure mangoes from here. Seven hundred tonnes of mangos are sent to different parts of the country from here every,” he said, adding that the volume will increase in the days to come.
Currently, mango is sold at Tk 30-35 per kg in the district.
Rabeya Basri Baishakhi of Shibpur area in Tala upazila said the mango production is higher than last year, and they are also getting higher prices this time.
After meeting local demands, the Himsagar is exported to many countries of the Europe and the Middle East strengthening the mango-related economy of the country.
Narail, May 27 (UNB) – In recent years, cultivation of bananas in Bangladesh has created a great buzz among farmers drawn by the lure of the higher profits it generates.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization ranks bananas as the world’s fourth-most important crop after the major cereals.
The country produces just under 1 million tonnes of bananas annually, last year it was 807,000 tonnes.
Banana farmers in Narail, who had a bumper crop this year, are also pocketing three-to-four times the usual price during Ramadan.
Narail farmers are happy with banana production and price this year. Farmers are sending banana to the capital after fulfilling the district demand, but here they are a little bit frustrated over problems they face in transportation.
They told UNB that the amount of waste generated while carrying their wares to different places of the country costs them a lot.
Agriculturalist Chinmoy Roy of Narail District Agricultural Extention Department said the soil of the region is favorable for banana cultivation. He specified five types of banana-- Joint Governer, Sagor, Kathali, Sobri and Chapa Sobri as ‘high yielding’ in Narail.
Farmers are choosing banana over paddy, jute and sugarcane for its easy marketing facility, cheaper labour costs and hence higher profits. Chinmoy Roy said the agriculture department has arranged to provide training to the farmers in order to boost production in the district.
Meanwhile, farmers are cultivating banana in most of the char lands in the district as the soil is not favorable for other crops.
Banana farmer Imran Hossain of Kolra union under Narail sadar upazila, said to UNB, “I have been cultivating banana for more than 12 years. I chose banana as my main crop due to the lower investment required and low labour costs, making it more profitable.”
Imran Hossain claimed that other farmers in his area have also chosen banana after observing his success.