Jashore, June 17 (UNB) – The two buildings of Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD) station in the district town lie in a dilapidated state for lack of renovation for over 50 years since its establishment, putting the lives of the officials and firefighters themselves at risk.
There are cracks in different parts of the buildings, including walls and beams, while plaster has come off the ceiling in many places.
The officials fear that the two buildings comprising the fire station might come down crashing anytime, unless they are renovated.
The fire station was set up on two acres of land on Bhola Tank Road in the district town in 1964.
There are station officer’s office and parking lot for keeping the two vehicles used during rescue operations – themselves very old - on the ground floor of a two-storey building while senior officials reside on its first floor.
The other one-storey building is used as the barracks for other officials and employees. A total of 35 employees, including station officer, team leaders, firemen, drivers, cooks and conservancy workers, live in different rooms of the barracks.
Cracks have developed on different parts of the rooms as well as beams and parking lot of both buildings while the plaster has come off the ceiling in many places, exposing iron rods.
Besides, the bathrooms are in a worse condition as their doors are broken while commodes are unfit for use.
The electric lines are also in a shabby condition as the wiring was done a long ago.
Besides, the tower of the fire station is also very old.
Talking to this correspondent, a number of officials and employees said they are passing their time inside the buildings amid anxiety while they work outside taking risk.
They are compelled to use the buildings as there is no alternative, they said, adding that it becomes impossible to reach the spot hurriedly with the old vehicles in case of any fire incident.
The fire station also lacks the equipment to douse fires in high-rise buildings, said assistant director of the fire station Matiar Rahman.
He said they are capable of dealing with a fire upto maximum 2nd floor with the ladders they currently have.
Matiar said officials and employees have to use the risky buildings amid fear of accident as there is no alternative.
He said the station should be upgraded into a modern one through construction of new buildings and procuring modern equipment and vehicles so that they can be confident of dealing with any fire they are called in to fight effectively.
Dhaka, June 17 (UNB)- State run Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC) has taken an initiative to induct 32 different types of vessels in its fleet by 2041, aiming to make it more profitable side by side improving the service standard for bringing back its past glory.
According to an official document obtained by UNB, the government has to pay Tk 2400 crore yearly for renting foreign vessels. For this reason, the government has taken the move to increase the number of Bangladeshi vessels aiming to save the hard-earned foreign exchange.
The 32 vessels include two Chemical/Crude oil tanker of capacity 30,000-35,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT), two Mother tanker of capacity 100,000-125,000 DWT, ten Bulk carriers with 10,000-15,000 DWT capacity and four Container vessels of capacity 1,200-1,500 TEUs.
Besides, two Mother product oil tankers (for carrying Diesel) with capacity of minimum 80,000 DWT each, two Mother Bulk carriers (for carrying coal) of capacity minimum 80,000 DWT each and two LNG carrier having capacity of about 140,000 CBM.
Currently, the Shipping Corporation has eight different kinds of vessels in its fleet.
According to the official document, BSC’s ship acquisition plan includes acquirement of a number of vessels of different types and sizes in addition to replacement of the existing ones with a view to increase carrying capacity of export-import of the country in government sector following the 7th Five-year plan, Vision-2021 & 2041.
Recently BSC has undertaken a number of development projects in line with the overall development activities of the country.
Several ship acquisition projects have been undertaken by BSC in consistent with Single Point Mooring (SPM) project of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC).
Besides, considering the government and private initiatives to set up coal-based power plants in various regions of the country, the BSC has taken a number of ship acquisition projects to carry cargoes.
The BSC has also launched a project for acquisition of LNG carriers in line with the government’s decision of importing LNG for uninterrupted supply to household and industries.
Aiming to increase national flag carrying vessels the government has slashed 15 percent VAT for registration of vessels having capacity of 5000 DWT.
Currently, a total of 47 vessels (from public and private sector) in the country are plying carrying the national flag. As a result, for export and import activities Bangladesh depends on foreign vessels.
In the last five years, the BSC procured two new 100,000-125,000 DWT mother tankers, ten new 10,000-15,000 DWT bulk carriers, two new 80,000 DWT mother bulk carrier for coal carrying, two new 40,000 CBM capacity LNG carriers, four new 1200-1500 TUES cellular containers, two new 80,000 DWT mother product oil tankers for diesel carrying and two new 30,000-50,000 DWT chemical/crude oil tankers.
The BSC made a net profit of Tk 12.5 crore in 2018. Its board has recommended six percent cash dividend for the last year.
The government owned 52.10 percent shares of the corporation as of March 31, while institutional investors owned 13.09 and public 34.81 percent, according to the Dhaka Stock Exchange website.
Sylhet, June 16 (UNB) – Whenever it rains or the weather turns turbulent, students at eight government primary schools in Benibazar upazila do their usual drill – packing their bags and heading home.
“The teachers hastily tell us to leave whenever the sky turns cloudy,” said a fifth-grader of Maligram Government Primary School.
Maligram is one of the eight schools of the upazila whose buildings have been identified as ‘risky’ by the primary education office.
The others are – Neraudi Government Primary School, Kholagam Government Primary School, Panjipuri Government Primary School, Kismot Government Primary School, Pollishashon Government Primary School, Arengabad Government Primary School, and Paton-2 Government Primary School.
Titu Chanda Das, the upazila’s acting primary education officer, said they prepared the list recently after the ministry ordered them to identify risky primary school buildings.
“It’s possible to take classes at these schools when the weather is favourable,” he said. “But teachers have been discouraged to take classes in bad weather.”
He said they had already sent the list of risky buildings to the ministry. “They can now either repair the existing ones or build new buildings. It’s up to them,” Das said.
Some of these buildings are tin-shed. “They can collapse any moment,” said one Faruk Ahmed, the guardian of a student.
“Areas like ours are neglected. That’s why our schools are forced to suspend studies in bad weather or during rain,” said Shahjahan Ahmad, a guardian from Naraudi village.
Beanibazar Upazila Nirbahi Officer Kazi Arifur said the government is very sincere about the primary education system. “Necessary measures will be taken about the risky buildings according to government directives,” he said. “It’ll get top priority.”
Beanibazar, June 16 (UNB)— In recent times, youths in Sylhet have become desperate to migrate to European countries, even at great risk to their finances and personal safety. The tendency is particularly acute among the residents of Beanibazar upazila.
Recently, four young men of the area went missing while they were crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Italy via Libya. There are hundreds like them who started their trip to Europe using Libya and Turkey as transit points along their route. A good number of them went missing before they reached the destination.
Surprisingly, their family members are reluctant to cooperate with the authorities.
Abani Shankar Kar, officer-in-charge of Beanibazar Police Station, said a 28-year-old youth named Tuhin went missing on his way to Europe. He communicated with his family members for the last time on May 6.
Another youth, Abdul Halim Sujon, 32, went missing in the same way. He is the son of late Ahmad Ali of Maijkapon village in Muria union.
Sujon was an auto-rickshaw driver here. Being enticed by the fantasy of a luxurious life and good job in Europe, he contracted with a broker named Parvej Ahmed about a year back to get to Italy at a cost of nearly Tk 1 million (he paid Tk 983,000). He had started his journey to Italy soon after and reached Libya, said his elder brother Abdul Alim.
After waiting in war-torn Libya for a long time, he along with others boarded a trawler meant for Italy via the Mediterranean Sea on May 9. From then, Sujon is missing. The broker, who sent him on the trip, confirmed to Sujon’s family that he boarded an Italy-bound trawler.
Hearing news of the recent boat containing Bangladeshis capsizing in the Mediterranean, killing dozens of them, Abdul Alim expressed his fear that his brother might have drowned in the sea.
Earlier, two other people named Rafik Ahmed and Ripon Ahmed went missing in the same way.
Three people of Sylhet went missing in the Mediterranean Sea three years ago. They are Imon, 22, Faridul Alam, 24, and Imran, 30. But no case has been filed yet in this regard. The silences may have something to do with the fact that they embarked on their journey knowing full well that their route fell outside the law.
A source requesting to be unnamed said that at least 1,200 people of Sylhet are still waiting in Libya, where Bangladeshis cannot go legally since 2014, for migration to Italy, crossing the Mediterranean. Of them, around 150 people are said to be from Beanibazar, who reached Libya via several countries. Just to reach Libya, each of them had paid TK 6-7 lakhs to the traffickers already.
Abani Shankar Kar said those who lured them into such danger with the promise of a luxurious life won’t be spared, and law enforcers stand ready to take the necessary action if a case is filed.
In the last six months, more than 300 youths left Beanibazar hoping to migrate to Italy, France, Spain, Portugal using Libya and Turkey as transit points. Many of their fates remain unknown.
Nahid, one of those who survived the hazardous journey to Italy but is now back in Bangladesh, shared his experience of the voyage through the Mediterranean.
“A boat with 80 people, much more than its capacity, is floating on the stormy ocean, rollicking in the waves. Sharks are spotted around the boat. If you fall off the boat, they will pounce. The 80 souls are desperate to reach Europe, beckoning like a paradise where their fates will change. But in that moment, a hellish death is closer to them.”
Dhaka, Jun 16 (UNB) — Bangladesh’s goal to generate 10 percent of its electricity from renewables by the next year will be a tough one to achieve as many solar power projects are yet to take off.
The government had set a target to generate about 2,000 MW of the total electricity from renewable by 2020. So far, about 300 MW is coming from solar energy and most of them are from solar home system, Power Division officials said.
Sources said that 23 solar power projects, with a total generation capacity of 1,442 MW, received “in principle approval” from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. They were to be implemented by private sector investors on a priority basis.
But most of them remain unimplemented for failure of their sponsors, official sources at the Power Division said.
A recent review meeting at the Power Division found that power purchase agreement (PPA) and implementation agreement (IA) were signed with private sponsors for only 11 projects. The remaining 12 projects received Letter of Intent from the state-owned Power Development Board (PDB).
“But no PPA or IA was signed with them,” said a top Power Division official, adding that they are now at different stages of agreement signing process.
He, however, admitted that PM gave her “in principal approval” few years ago on different occasions.
Officials said the Power Division review meeting, held on May 19 with Power Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus in chair, found implementation of most of the projects to be frustrating.
Of the 11 projects, for which PPA and IA deals were signed, only one project – 20 MW (AC) Solar Park in Cox’s Bazar – has so far been successfully implemented as per schedule. Most of the remaining 10 projects are far behind their implementation deadlines.
The Power Division has moved to terminate contracts with three projects by sending them “Event of Default Notice”.
These are 200 MW (AC) solar project at Gaibandha by Beximco Power, 5 MW (AC) solar park in Sylhet by Eiki Shoji Co. Ltd and 30 MW (AC) Solar park in Gangachara, Rangpur by Intraco CNG.
Another project – 200 MW (AC) Solar Park of Sun Edison in Cox’s Bazar – was also sent termination notice by issuing the Notice to Intent to Terminate. But sponsor of the project moved the international arbitration court and now the matter is pending in judicial process.
Three other projects – 30 MW (AC) solar park in Sunamganj by Edisun-Power Point, 50 MW (AC) solar park in Mymensingh by Hetat-Ditrolic IDFC, and 5 MW (AC) Solar Park in Patgram, Lalmonirhat by Green Housing and Energy – saw poor progress, an official report of Power Division shows.
Of the other remaining three projects, according to Power Division report, 8 MW (AC) solar park project in Tetulia of Panchagarh by JV of Paragon Property & Parasol Energy is at the concluding stage. Power evacuation from the project is yet to be settled.
The sponsor of 32 MW (AC) solar park in Manikganj is now developing land to implement the project by November this year and that of 100 MW solar park in Mongla signed a contract in February this year to implement the project by August 2020.
But their financial closing is yet to be done by the sponsors, said the officials.