The country's largest industrial city, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar (BSMSN), being constructed in an area of 30,000 acres of land in Mirsarai and Sitakunda upazilas of Chattogram and Sonagazi upazila of Feni, is going to witness the operation of its very first factory – Asian Paints – in March this year.
"The construction of several factories out of hundreds are about to be completed. In March, Asian Paints will go to production as the first. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate its operation," said Abdullah Al Mahmud Faruk, director of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar Development Project.
He told The Business Standard that another factory named MacDonald Steel would also start production in the same month.
"The opening of the factories will mark a landmark achievement for the country's economy," added Faruk, a joint secretary at the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza).
The India-based Asian Paints and Bangladesh's MacDonald Steel Building Products have invested a total of $40 million, $20 million each, to run the factories.
The Asian Paints facility on 20 acres of land would produce different types of paints and other ingredients, employing some 200 workers, said a source in Asian Paints.
The source told The Business Standard that the factory with state-of-the-art facilities would be the largest in Asia.
The paint manufacturer started construction of the factory in early 2020 and tried to begin operations in mid-2021, but failed as it could not complete preparations due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation. "Now, 90% of the construction work is complete, and the rest will be done within February," said Shangkar Ranjan Bhowmic, another senior official of the company.
He told TBS that the company had decided to launch the facility in March. However, he did not mention any specific date.
Meanwhile, Project Manager for the MacDonald Steel factory Abdullah Al Mamun said the company was also being prepared to roll out the facility in March by any means.
"We will produce mild steel plates, and nearly 62 people will be employed here."
The visionary industrial city BSMSN, it is believed, will shape the future of the country, as it will generate at least 15 lakh jobs, as well as produce hundreds of products and export items. Being one of the largest economic and industrial zones in South Asia, it is expected to enhance the country's image.
The state-of-the-art industrial city having multi-dimensional features is a great junction of domestic and foreign investment, industrialisation and economy at the entry to the south-eastern part of the country.
"The Bangabandhu Shilpa Nagar will fulfil one of our big dreams. The inauguration of the factories' operations in the industrial city will be a great success in the history of the country's economic zones," said Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
However, the authorities did not construct the designed marine drive road to increase connectivity with the Chattogram Port, he said. The construction of roads inside the economic zone had not been completed properly.
The business leader called for ensuring a completion of the infrastructure as early as possible.
According to the BEZA, a total of 153 companies have so far been awarded 6,500 acres of land for setting up factories there.
The BSMSN on the spot
A visit to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar on Tuesday revealed that the Mirsarai portion was being prepared fast, while the Sitakundu and Sonagazi sides were awaiting land allocation.
Some 6,000 acres of land in the portion have already been filled with soil. Now roads, bridges and other infrastructure are being constructed. The authorities are installing gas and electricity lines for different under-constructed factories. Besides, solar systems have been set up for roads inside the industrial city.
Apart from Asian Paints and MacDonald Steel, Healthcare Pharma was seen developing its facility on 40 acres of land, Bangladesh Auto Industries on 100 acres, SQ Cable on 40 acres, Jingyuan on 10 acres, Modern Syntex on 20 acres, Nippon and others on 100 acres, and Berger Paints on 30 acres.
Besides, the local company Samuda Foods, and Berger Paints Bangladesh are planning to open their factories by the next year (2023).
Among the special zones, the 1,150-acre Bepza Economic Zone started construction while the 500-acre Garment Village and the 500-acre SBG Economic Zone are yet to see development. Bashundhara Group is preparing its 500-acre zone fast.
"We have already ensured gas and electricity for under-constructed factories. For water, they temporarily use groundwater," said Ferdous Wahid, assistant engineer of the Beza.
He is hopeful about the fast completion of the Mirsarai portion of the industrial city.