The BGMEA Garment Village at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar in Chattogram is finally overcoming its long-standing complexities, as development work has begun in the area after significant delays.
The Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza) has promised that utility services, such as internal roads, drainage systems, and effluent treatment plants (ETPs), will be provided gradually.
Abdullah Al Mahmood Farooq, director of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar Development Project, said since the development work has begun, investors can now begin the construction of factories.
"Gas and electricity supply will be provided within the next seven months. When investors start construction, co-development work will start in series," he told The Business Standard.
Currently, investors anticipate that the factory construction work will start soon, as Beza inaugurated the development work on 21 July, with a projected completion timeline of two years.
The Garment Village of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association is set to be established on a sprawling 500 acres of land. Approximately 321 acres of this land will be allocated for the construction of garment factories, while the remaining area will be designated for the development of essential infrastructure, including internal roads, drainage systems, ETPs, electricity, gas and water facilities.
In October 2021, Beza wrote to SQ Celsius, Visual Knitwear, and Denim Fashions to get space in the Garment Village. But the companies did not start construction because of a lack of favourable conditions for building factories.
Later in February 2022, garment entrepreneurs along with BGMEA President Faruque Hasan visited the project area, where they said factories could not be built there until roads, drains, and other utility services were ensured.
According to Beza, the National Development Engineers is working on the development project for the Garment Village. Some 23km of two-lane roads and 29km of drains will be constructed in the village and a nearby area at a cost of about Tk450 crore.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between Beza and BGMEA in 2018 for the establishment of a garment village. Already, 237 acres of land have been allotted to 40 investors for the construction of factories in the BGMEA Garments Village.
According to data from Beza, if this Garment Village is built, investment will be about $1.5 billion, and employment will cover about five lakh people.
M Mohiuddin Chowdhury, director of BGMEA and chief executive officer of Clifton Group, said that with the construction of roads and drains starting there, investors will be able to go ahead with the construction of factories.
Ahmed Noor Faisal, managing director of Visual Knitwear, said, "We will build a fabric mill on three acres of land in the Garment Village. There will be employment for 500 people."
"Even though Beza wrote to us, asking us to take over the plot, we could not start the work as it was not suitable for factory construction. Since the road construction work has started there, we will commence the construction of the factory soon," he added.
The industrial enclave is being built on more than 30,000 acres in Mirsarai, Sitakunda of Chattogram, and Sonagazi upazila of Feni. When fully operational, there will be employment for about 15 lakh people.
About $19 billion in investment proposals from local and foreign companies have been approved in Bangabandhu Shilpa Nagar so far. Four companies have already commenced production. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the production process in November last year. Work on the setting up of 21 more industries is now underway. The companies will go into production next September in phases.