The Chattogram City Corporation has proposed to set up 26 cattle markets in areas around seven of the busiest roads in the port city, which would severely hamper vehicle movements there, said senior officials of the Traffic Division, and Chattogram port.
The Bangladesh Bank and the Chattogram City Corporation will work together to facilitate digital payment systems at two of the port city's cattle markets.
On 11 May, the Chattogram City Corporation sent a letter to the district administration seeking permission to set up 23 temporary cattle markets, up from three last year, in addition to the three permanent ones ahead of the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha.
The three permanent cattle markets in Chattogram city are Sagarika, Bibirhat and Postarpar Bazar.
The city corporation applied for permission to set up 10 temporary cattle markets in 2022 and finally set up three. There were also three temporary cattle markets in the city in 2021, and four in 2020.
In the letter to the district administration, the city corporation cited the demand of "local people and ward commissioners" as the reason for an almost eight-fold increase in the number of temporary cattle markets this year.
According to the Chattogram City Corporation's letter, 12 of the temporary cattle markets will be located around three roads which are vital for transporting goods to and from Chattogram port.
Mahfuzul Hoque Shah, former director of Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industries, told The Business Standard, "Where there were only three temporary cattle markets in 2022, the idea of setting up 23 markets this year is unusual. If this happens, there will be a major disaster in traffic in Chattogram city.
"Besides, the plan to set up 12 cattle markets around Chattogram port and Shah Amanat International Airport will affect the country's import and export."
Omor Faruk, secretary of Chattogram port, told TBS that the importers and exporters transport goods to and from the port through Outer Ring Road, Toll Road, and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Road, which the traffic department should consider before permission to set up cattle markets in areas around them is given.
Chattogram City Corporation Chief Revenue Officer Mohammad Nazrul Islam told TBS that leasing temporary cattle markets is an income-generating sector of the city corporation.
According to the Chattogram City Corporation, the temporary cattle markets generated around Tk2.87 crore revenue in 2020, Tk2.50 crore in 2021, and Tk6.46 crore in 2022.
Subhash Barua, an urban planner, said, "The city corporation is only seeing to its own benefit, not the people's. The mayor of this town is a political leader, and so are the councillors. The city corporation took the decision to mainly benefit influential political leaders."
Joynul Abedin, deputy police commissioner (Traffic-North) of Chattogram Metropolitan Police, told TBS, "It has already become difficult to control traffic jams in the port city due to the elevated expressway and waterlogging. The city roads would become unfit for commuters if so many cattle markets are set up in the city."
"There are two permanent cattle markets, including Bibirhat, in the area for which I am responsible. Additional cattle markets will not be allowed here in the current situation," he added.
Chattogram Deputy Commissioner Abul Bashar Mohammed Fakhruzzaman told TBS, "We do not want to comment on this yet, but nothing will happen beyond the Chattogram Metropolitan Police's recommendations."
Two cattle markets to accept digital payments
The Bangladesh Bank and the Chattogram City Corporation have taken an initiative to facilitate cashless transactions at two of the city's cattle markets.
Bangladesh Bank Deputy Director Julia Chowdhury and Joint Director Salahuddin Mahmud presented a plan in this regard to Chattogram City Mayor Rezaul Karim Chowdhury on Thursday.
Julia Chowdhury said the Dhaka North City Corporation set up six booths for digital transactions at cattle markets to eliminate the risk of cash transactions for the first time in 2022. Utilising that experience, the central bank has taken an initiative to set up digital transaction booths at Sagarika and Noor Nagar Housing cattle markets in Chattogram city.
At these two booths, the customers and traders of cattle markets will get access to ATMs, mobile financial services, digital banking etc.