Even three years ago, local entrepreneurs showed no interest in taking plots in Barishal BSCIC areas, but things have now started to change altogether with the Padma bridge and the Payra port gradually getting shape.
Many industries are flocking to either buy land or take plots on a lease, signalling future industrialisation in the country's southern region centred on the two mega projects.
Since the beginning of the current fiscal year, sales of plots in Sadar upazila have gone beyond 600 per month from 360 a year ago, according to land office sources.
Prices of land have tripled over the three years as well.
"I sold each decimal of land for Tk2 lakh three years ago, but the price has now reached Tk6 lakh," said Sayeedul Islam, who lives at Zero Point in Jhalakathi's Nalchhiti upazila next to Barishal-Patuakhali highway.
Barishal division has six Bangladesh Small Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) areas under six districts and plots in each BSCIC are in great demand among entrepreneurs.
KM Ali Azam, secretary to the industries ministry, said Barishal, having all the elements of industrialisation, is a good area to build industries.
"After opening the Padma bridge, Barishal will be connected through four modes of communication – road, rail, sea and air," he said.
He said they were set to establish three more large BSCIC units in Barishal, each on 500 acres of land, and these would be identified as industrial parks.
Securing permission to build two shipbreaking industry areas near the Payra port in Barguna, as well as a liquefied natural gas (LNG) station, is under the process, said Ali.
Some industrialisation projects in Barishal are also underway, and they will be opened immediately upon completion of the Padma bridge, he said.
He also said Barishal would play an essential role in the country's national growth through industrialisation.
"Industrialisation in Barishal would contribute 2% growth to the national economy," he said.
"We have lots of dreams for industrialisation of the southern region, which are centred on the bridge and the port. We are confident those dreams will achieve fruition," added the secretary.
Ali said industrialisation might create work opportunities for at least 10 lakh people within five years after opening the bridge, adding that the number might jump to around 30-40 lakh within the next 10 years.
"The socio-economic situation of the region will change after the industries and factories are established."
Around Tk10,000-20,000 crore may be invested within the next 10 years, according to BSCIC officials and the Barishal chamber of commerce.
"Around 500-1,000 factories of different categories will be established in all areas surrounding Barishal, including six BSCIC areas in six districts," said Rintu.
Local land developers in the southern district said most land adjacent to the Barishal-Payra port highway is in great demand and has been sold to different companies.
Prior to the start of construction of the Padma bridge, Barishal BSCIC plots remained unutilised and were not in demand among entrepreneurs, BSCIC officials said.
The demand for BSCIC plots increased rapidly when spans of the Padma bridge were being installed.
Some 12 entrepreneurs have applied for each BSCIC plot, said Jalij Mahmud, deputy manager of BSCIC in Barishal.
"Many companies are now very interested in buying plots. Some renowned factories are also trying to purchase land," he added.
Many businesses are mainly trying to buy roadside land, said Obidulla Saju, a local land businessman.
Landowners said land prices had been soaring, centring on the construction of the port and the bridge.
"Land sales doubled this year compared to those in the last fiscal year. Sales did not even fall during the Covid-19 pandemic. As the bridge construction is more visible now, land sales are increasing," said Md Mehedi Hasan, assistant commissioner of land of Barishal Sadar.
Over 100 businesses and industries have recently bought land, he added.
"I bought a plot to construct a residential hotel. The work will start very soon. Its demand will rise after the Padma bridge is opened," said Nijam Uddin, owner of Adventure Shipping Company.
"I have also built a shipyard for the easy transportation of steel sheets and other materials. It will be fully operational after the construction of the bridge is completed," he added.
Engineer Amir Hossain, a new entrepreneur, said he was going to open an electronics factory on his recently purchased land in Barishal Sadar's Kashipur.
He said he was looking for a big plot of land to build a technological university, but land was not available now.
"Some garment factory owners are trying to take plots on lease in Barishal BSCIC areas to build factories, but I cannot allot any owing to a plot crisis," said Jalij.
Tofazzel Hossain, assistant general manager of Patuakhali BSCIC, said, "All the plots in my BSCIC area have been allotted and they still are in great demand."
Saidur Rahman Rintu, president of Barishal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said business would boom in Barishal as soon as the Padma bridge was opened.
"Garment factory proprietors of the southern region are preparing to relocate their factories to Barishal after the bridge is constructed," he said.
The Payara port and the Padma bridge have motivated people to invest in Barishal, said Rintu, also the chairman of Barishal Sadar upazila.
"We demanded that natural gas be supplied from Bhola to Barishal, and that demand will be fulfilled," he added.