Addl. $7.8b needed to halve fatalities: WB
Bangladesh needs to invest an additional amount of $7.8 billion over the next decade to halve its road crash fatalities. In 2017, road accidents became the fourth leading cause of death for children from the ninth leading cause of death in 1990. The report called for a new focus on safe road infrastructure design that meets the needs of all road users and vehicle types – animals, pedestrians, bicycles, rickshaws, motorcycles, motorized three-wheelers, cars, minibuses, buses, mini trucks, trucks, and agricultural vehicles. The report is part of a broader study on road safety in South Asia’s eastern subregion, comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal, that called for regional measures to make roads and vehicles safer, even while making national-level actions a top priority. The eastern sub-region accounts for an estimated 86 per cent of South Asia’s population, 92 per cent of its vehicles, and 87 per cent of its road crash fatalities. To better monitor the effectiveness of road safety efforts, the report recommended a shared regional initiative to harmonize crash data management and analysis systems across South Asia.
Govt to launch reintegration support pilot project by March
The government is set to launch a pilot project on economic reintegration support for returnee migrant workers by this March aiming to help them get involved with income generating activities. To this effect, Wage Earners’ Welfare Board (WEWB) has called a meeting this week to finalise the project involving about Tk 20 million. Officials dealing with the matter said the pilot scheme will start with 100 male and 100 female workers in 15 districts. However, the country has no official database of returnee migrant workers. But experts said nearly 100,000 Bangladeshi workers including successful and unsuccessful ones come back home each year. Some 62,000 workers were deported from different Middle East countries in 2019 due to various factors including overstaying, scarcity of jobs and lack of valid documents there. Of them, about 25,000 workers returned home only from Saudi Arabia. Besides, more than 50,000 workers were sent back from Malaysia under its “Back 4 Good” programme last year. Because of workplace harassment, at least 10,000 female workers returned home from different Middle East countries in last four years. According to the welfare desk at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and rights activists, more than 1,500 domestic helps returned home from Saudi Arabia last year. They faced exploitations like denial of wages and sexual and physical assaults there. According to the Bureau of Manpower Employment of Training (BMET) data, more than 12 million Bangladeshi workers went abroad since 1976 with jobs in different countries.
BMFA for proper test of imported sea fishes
Bangladesh Marine Fisheries Association (BMFA) has requested the government to ensure proper chemical tests of imported sea fishes at different ports in the country. The government should take required measures for the sake of human health, the association said in a recent letter to commerce ministry. It pointed out that heavy metals like lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury (Hg) are not identified during the formalin test, and stressed the need for examining the imported fishes from the Middle Eastern countries before releasing the shipments from the ports. The BMFA said the import of sea fishes resumed recently after remaining suspended for last several years. The BMFA mentioned in the letter that Bangladesh imports sea fishes mainly from different Middle Eastern countries like Yemen, Dubai, Oman, Qatar and Pakistan where fishes often die and stay afloat in the sea due to oil leaked out of the hydrocarbon drilling rigs. The country earns more than Tk 2.0 billion annually through exporting sea fishes, according to the association.
Bashundhara builds Bangladesh’s biggest bitumen plant
Bashundhara Group has set up the country’s biggest bitumen plant in Keraniganj with an annual production capacity of a whopping 9 lakh tonnes for $143.7 million, in a development that can be viewed as emblematic of the business giant’s ambitions. Bitumen is a hydrocarbon-based substance used to build roads and highways. Currently, 90 per cent of Bangladesh’s annual demand for 5 lakh tonne of bitumen is met by imports. With major construction and repairs of 22,000 kilometres of roads and highways under the Roads and Highways Department ongoing, local demand for the material is on the rise. Besides, of the 354,000kms of undeveloped roads under the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), 105,000kms have already been upgraded to paved streets. Moreover, the government is expanding all national highways from four to six lanes. This includes district level roads, for which the use of bitumen has increased about 10 to 15 per cent annually. With the standard requirements set by engineers given utmost priority, the premium quality Bashundhara bitumen product has penetration values of 60/70 and 80/100 and comes in various grades: cut back, emulsified, oxidised and polymer modified. Other than meeting the local demand, Bashundhara plans to penetrate the international market for bitumen products by 2021.
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