Bangui (Central African Republic), Feb 8 (UNB)- The Bangladesh Special Force (BANSF) has been working round-the-clock to maintain peace and political stability alongside other international peacekeepers in the tumultuous Central African Republic (CAR) since 2016.
Volatility has been a salient feature of CAR ever since it gained independence from France in 1960. Although the landlocked country is rich in natural resources, such as diamonds, gold, oil and uranium, it has one of the poorest populations in the world.
The country has been rocked by violence in recent years. The Security Council, concerned with security, humanitarian, human rights and political crisis in the CAR, established MINUSCA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Central African Republic) in 2014.
BANSF, a highly-skilled commando company of Bangladesh Army, works under the Force Commander of MINUSCA. Currently, BANSF is the third contingent from Bangladesh.
Last month, it carried out a mission, codenamed ‘Operation BEKPA 2’, in Bambari, some 380 kilometers east of capital Bangui. The Special Force thwarted an attempt to unleash violence by local armed group UPC – Union for Peace in the Central African Republic.
The situation in Bambari deteriorated several weeks ago after UPC killed two police officers ahead of a scheduled visit by CAR President Faustin-ArchangeTouadéra.
MINUSCA’s drones showed 30 to 40 UPC fighters attempting to prevent the advance of FACA (CAR army) and Gendarmerie (police force of CAR) in the city dominated by the armed group.
BANSF, along with Portuguese and Nepalese peacekeepers, launched ‘Operation BEKPA 2’ on January 17. The operation, starting 8am (local time), lasted eight hours.
UPC members put up resistance with heavy machine guns, rocket launchers and grenades, but the Special Forces pushed forward. They forced UPC members to flee leaving behind firearms and ammunition.
BANSF destroyed an ammunition dump and recovered a huge cache of rocket launchers, rifles, uniforms, and locally-made weapons. All UPC shelters were destroyed by Bangladesh Special Force during the operation.
The commandos also captured three suspected UPC members, and handed them over to local authorities. A number of documents related to activities of the militant leaders were also recovered.
There was hardly any presence of the armed element after the successful operation and the locals were elated. MINUSCA’s Force Commander Lt Gen Balla Keita sent a letter of appreciation.
No Bangladeshi commando was injured or killed during the mission, Major Md Shahidul Islam, the commander of ‘Operation BEKPA 2’, told a seven-member visiting Bangladesh delegation during a presentation about activities of BANSF at M’POKO Green Field BANSF Camp in Bangui.
The seven-member delegation, led by Maj Gen Md Masud Razzaq, has been visiting CAR in UN missions areas as a part of ‘goodwill visit’. Brig Gen Kh Md Mozammel Haque is also included in the delegation.
Maj Islam said they would conduct similar operations if the armed group tried to make a comeback to the area.
Satkhira, Feb 7 (UNB) - The residents of three villages in Ashashuniupazila bemoan that the local administration is not paying heed to their longstanding demand for constructing a concrete bridge over the Balua River in the upazila to facilitate their movement.
The three villages are Khejurdanga, Parkhejurdanga and Bashtala under Kadakati union.
The existing bamboo bridge was built about a decade ago after the river dried up, taking the shape of a canal. Around 15,000 residents of the three villages, including a good number of schoolchildren, are forced to cross the rickety bridge every day for various purposes.
Many locals said the schoolchildren slipped from the bamboo bridge most of the time and fell into the river.
Songita Rani, a resident of Khejurdanga village, said “I’ve to help my children cross the bridge every day when they go to school and return.”
Anjana Das, a student of a local school, said, “We use the bamboo bridge for going to school, putting our lives at risk.”
Not all students know how to swim.
Biplab Kumar Gain, headmaster of Khejurdanga Government Primary School, said the guardians of students were worried for the safety of their children as they have to use the bamboo bridge for coming to the educational institution.
“The bridge, built by the local union parishad chairman with the Union Parishad’s funding, is very risky. Our demands of constructing a bridge over the river many times for the sake of the children have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.
Biplab requested the local administration to construct a concrete bridge as soon as possible.
Upazila Primary Education Officer Samsunnahar said locals had long been demanding a bridge over the river. “The matter has been brought to the notice of the local administration,” she said.
AshashuniUpazila UNO Mir Alif Reza said a bridge could not be built because of administrative complexities.
“Steps will be taken to ensure that a bridge is constructed over the river as soon as possible,” he said.
Dhaka, Jan 7 (UNB) - Though the Dhaka International Trade Fair has been witnessing an overwhelming response from local visitors, it has failed to attract foreign ones due to mismanagement and filthy condition of the venue and its adjoining areas.
Talking to UNB, some foreign exhibitors said the overall environment of the fair does not match the international standard while most of the local products are not up to the mark.
Abdul Majid, proprietor of Bungree and Sons of Kashmir, said, “I’ve been taking part in the trade fair for the last five years. More importantly, I took part in fairs in 13 countries, but I didn’t see the situation like this.”
“If I compare DITF with other trade fairs, I’ll say it fails to maintain international standard. Look at this pavilion’s floor—huge dirt and terrible dust. All my employees have fallen sick for the unhealthy environment,” he also said.
Majid said, “There’s terrible mismanagement here. The authorities rented out stalls at a high rate but we can’t sell our products as we expected. We’ve to struggle to recoup our costs. We didn’t get a single foreign customer yet. Many local people visit but they hardly buy.”
However, Halef Ozkurt, country manager of Everest Rug Production Ltd of Turkey, said several Russian visitors from the Embassy in Bangladesh bought their carpets and visitors from several other countries visited their pavilion.
“We take part in the fair to promote our local products. We sold out some small carpets but big items remained unsold. We’re waiting for last day’s sale. Because, buyers purchase many products in the last hours,” he said.
Local exhibitors said the number of foreign visitors has come down compared to previous years.
Shafiqul Alam, manager of Walton Group, said few foreign visitors were seen to visit the fair this year. “We aren’t happy. To make it an international fair, we need to have huge foreign visitors.”
He said, “Many local brands, including the RMG, have good reputation in the world market too but we cannot attract them here. If the government takes initiatives then huge foreigner visitors would come and help earn huge foreign currencies.”
Even the local visitors said the fair has turned into a local market, not the international trade fair.
Riazul Talukder, a resident of Ajimpur area, said, “I come here only to visit and pass time. There’re many substandard products in the trade fair.”
Md Ramjan Ali, Director General of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), said, “I’ve visited different international fairs. Our trade fair fails to meet the international standard for various reasons, including mismanagement, filthy environment, and lack of awareness of people. We’re trying to make it in line with the international standard gradually. Different seminars, product introduction, and discussions by local and international renowned people are arranged at the fair ground,” he said.
“To make the DITF an international standard one, we’ll lay emphasis on pavilion selection. Only the country’s popular brands will be given allotment. A healthy environment will be ensured,” he said.
He added that they want to move DITF to Purbachol soon because there is no residential facilities for foreigners here.
Bagerhat, Feb 5 (UNB) - Thousands of people of the district are unable to have access to its 100-bed Sadar Hospital for lack of medical facilities, doctors and staff.
In 1970, a 50-bed hospital started its journey at Muniganj for the people of nine upazilas of the district which was upgraded to a100-bed one in 1992 considering the needs of locals.
But there has been no initiative since then to fill the designated posts of doctors and the 100-bed hospital keeps providing services with the 50-bed hospital’s human resources, endangering the lives of patients.
Sources at the hospital said just 13 doctors have been appointed against 24 stipulated ones, while the 11 other posts have been lying vacant since its opening. On top of that, two doctors have been on “leave” from the very next day after joining it in 2017 and 2018 respectively without permission from the authorities concerned.
Marzina Begum, a patient of the hospital, said she came here for the treatment of her eyes, but she did not get any service from it for lack of any specialist doctor.
Many patients of different ages said they often have to go beyond the district to receive proper treatment due to specialist doctor crisis at the hospital, which makes healthcare very expensive for them.
Mashiur Rahman, Residential Medical Officer (RMO) of Bagerhat Sadar Hospital, said senior consultant posts at the Department of Orthopaedics, Department of Gynaecology, Department of Surgery, Department of Ophthalmology, Department of Anaesthesia and the consultant post of Department of Neonatal, Department of Radiology, doctor’s post at the Department of Pathology and three medical officers are vacant.
“The number of patients at the hospital is increasing day by day, though there’s a crisis of doctors and staff,” Mashiur added.
According to the sources, five posts of nurse, four each of class three and class four staff are also vacant.
“Dr Kamrun Sattar joined the hospital on June 9, 2018 as a senior consultant at the Department of Gynaecology while Dr Manowar Hossain on November 5, 2017as a junior consultant at the Department of Anaesthesia, but they are absent from their duties without permission of the authorities from the day after joining the hospital,” said Civil Surgeon Dr JKM Shamsuzzaman.
“Departmental action will be taken against the two,” he said, adding that 13 doctors out of 24 are working at the hospital while two are on leave with permission and three without permission, including the two consultants.
He further said around 150-160 patients are currently admitted to the hospital and they are naturally not getting proper treatment due to the staff crisis, endangering their lives and wellbeing.
Chuadanga, Feb 4 (UNB) –The tallest sculpture of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the architect of the country’s independence, will be built in the district.
Renowned sculptor Mrinal Haque will erect the 100-foot sculpture on a land beside the tennis ground of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in the town, said Deputy Commissioner of the district Gopal Chandra Das.
Gopal Chandra Das said a long-cherished desire of Chuadanga residents is going to be fulfilled with the erection of the sculpture of Bangabandhu.
Once completed, it will be the tallest sculpture of Bangabandhu in the country. Besides, there is another sculpture of Bangabandhu at Raujan in Chattogram which is 66 feet in height.
office sources said a meeting presided by DC Gopal Chandra Das was held at his office over the erection of the sculpture recently where MP of Chuadanga-1 constituency Solaiman Haque Joarder, Police Superintendent Mahbubur Rahmana and Municipality Mayor Obaidur Rahman were present.
Local people and freedom fighters were delighted by the news.
Former commander of Chuadanga Freedom Fighter unit Nurul Haque Malik said, “The Liberation War history of Chuadanga district is glorious. During the war, the leadership for south-western part was given from Chuadanga. The provisional government of Bangladesh was scheduled to take oath from the district but later the oath taking was held at Meherpur, Mujibnagar for some technical reasons.”
Freedom fighters said although Chuadanga nutures huge memories of the Liberation War, no sculpture of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was built although 48 years have passed by since the independence. But they are happy that it will be finally be built.
Jatiya Sangsad whip and Chuadanga-1 MP Solaiman Haque Joarder said, “As a freedom fighter, I’m very happy today because a desire of Chuadanga people is going to be fulfilled. I’ve assured the DC of providing all kinds of assistance to carry on such a great job.”
Sculpture Mrinal Haque said the sculpture of Bangabandhu will be the tallest one in the country and it will take five months for him to complete it.