The much awaited Chattogram-Cox's Bazar railway line is set to launch today. To gain insights into the significance of this development, we spoke with Khairul Alam Suzan, Vice President of the Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association (BAFFA)
After a long wait, the Chattogram-Cox's Bazar railway line is finally opening. How do you think it will contribute to trade and the economy?
The railway line is a matter of pride for us after a prolonged wait. This [rail connectivity] presents an unprecedented opportunity, particularly for the business and tourism sectors. Traders prioritise the safety, cost-effectiveness, and time efficiency of transporting goods. Also, the rail line will open doors for investment potential in the region.
The railway line will play a pivotal role in the country's economy as well. With the rail option, tourists can enjoy a more comfortable and quicker journey to Cox's Bazar. This cuts off the hassles associated with road travel.
However, there is a need to revamp the hotel-motel business in Cox's Bazar to attract foreigners. Besides, well planned tourist cities must be developed.
The rail line will connect to the Matarbari sea port. How do you foresee this impacting the maritime sector?
If the rail line is connected to Matarbari, the maritime sector, especially port users, shipping traders, and logistics sector traders, will directly benefit the most. This connection holds significant promise and attractiveness for these stakeholders.
The Matarbari deep seaport can be an economic game-changer, allowing mother vessels from any country to anchor directly, reducing time and cost in the transportation of goods. Full operationalisation of the Matarbari port will attract foreign investors, and connecting it with the railway will make trade more efficient across the country.
What steps can be taken to develop tourism, industrialisation and urbanisation in Cox's Bazar?
For the development around Cox's Bazar and Chattogram, the government should implement a master plan for tourism, industrialisation, and urbanisation. The ease of communication will lead to rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, but it must be planned meticulously.
Facilities for foreign tourists, including security, should be ensured to enhance their experience.
What industries do you believe would thrive in this region?
The south bank of the Karnaphuli river to Maheshkhali is already approved for the construction of an industrial zone involving various private companies, including the Chinese Economic Zone. Given the region's accessibility by road, rail, sea, and air, any industrial zone related to import and export can thrive, provided it is well-planned.
Considering the transportation of goods through Matarbari, what steps can the railway authority take to facilitate this process?
With a significant volume of containers set to be transported across the country through Matarbari, there will be immense pressure on roads. The railways should establish a direct connection with private large container depots, including Kamalapur ICD of Dhaka and Dhirashram of Gazipur, to ensure efficient container transport by rail, providing a viable alternative and relieving pressure on the roads.