The ongoing pandemic has delayed the construction of PHP Family's $4 billion integrated steel plant at the Mirsarai Economic Zone in Chattogram.
The local conglomerate aimed to begin the construction of the joint venture project in 2021 but land handover to the corporation is yet to be completed, said PHP Family's Vice-Chairman Mohammed Mohsin.
Moreover, the consultants, engineers and foreign investors cannot travel to the project site because of the pandemic.
PHP undertook the project to set up the Composite Steel Plant joint venture on around 564 acres of land at Mirsarai.
The company, along with its foreign investors, also planned to invest $4 billion to build the plant – which will manufacture 3 million tonnes of basic steel every year – in two phases.
PHP hoped to export the steel to African countries after meeting local demands.
It said the plant will produce steel products – from building materials to paper clips – under one roof. The plant will generate 15,000 jobs directly and 5,000 indirectly.
On August 5, 2018, Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority's (Beza) Executive Member Harunur Rashid and PHP Family Director Mohammed Iqbal Hossain signed a land lease agreement. PHP also handed over the lease money to Beza for the 50-year agreement.
"The government has not handed over the land to us yet. Also, we cannot communicate with our foreign partner owing to the pandemic," said PHP Vice-Chairman Mohsin.
"We cannot say when we will be able to establish the plant. We still do not know how we will proceed with it. However, we have to find a way out," he added.
PHP Director Mohammed Iqbal Hossain said, "All international flights are suspended now, which has kept us back from accelerating the project. Our consultants and engineers cannot visit the site while a delay in land handover has kept us from starting the work."
Beza Spokesperson Md Abdul Quader said, "We are working on delivering the land to PHP. But the pandemic has rendered the process sluggish."
Mirsarai Economic Zone is being established on 30,000 acres of land.
PHP (Peace, Happiness and Prosperity) started its journey in 1999. It comprises over 30 sister concerns that are operating in diverse business sectors such as: steel, float glass, aluminium, textiles, power, petroleum refineries, financial services, agriculture, automobiles, and others.
The group has an annual turnover of Tk5,000 crore.