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Sadarghat Launch Terminal Faces Reduced Demand Amid Road Transport Boost

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sadarghat launch road terminal

The allure of river journeys is waning as the Padma Bridge enhances road transport options, causing a notable decline in waterway passenger numbers. At Dhaka’s Sadarghat launch terminal, ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, launch owners are uncertain about the necessity for special services due to reduced demand.

Navigational challenges worsen the situation, increasing travel times and operational costs for launch owners. Consequently, travellers are favoring road options over waterways.

“The improved efficiency in road transport, highlighted by the Padma Bridge, has directly impacted passenger flow to waterway services, halving our figures recently,” stated Badiuzzaman Badal, senior vice president of the Bangladesh Inland Waterways Passenger Carrier Association (BIWPCA).

Severe traffic congestion near the Sadarghat terminal is deterring potential passengers, contributing to the decline. Currently, only 50-55 launches depart daily for southwestern destinations, carrying less than half of their usual passenger loads.

Badal mentioned that unless there is an increase in travellers, the number of operational launches will remain unchanged. However, he hinted at a potential increase in launches if there is an Eid holiday rush.

Traditionally, Eid seasons witnessed launches operating beyond capacity. However, this year, passenger numbers have dropped by almost half.

Launch owners are refraining from raising fares, asserting their commitment to ensuring affordability.

Mohammad Shaheed Mia, president of the National Committee for the Protection of Shipping, Road, and Railways, noted a significant drop in passengers from Barisal and Chandpur, highlighting the long-standing reliance on waterways by people of the southwestern region.

Ashish Kumar Dey, president of the Shipping and Communication Reporters Forum (SCRF), mentioned a 35% to 45% decline in launch travel patronage over the last 18 months due to various factors, despite it remaining a preferred, cost-effective mode for many.

Despite challenges, an estimated 2.5 million people are expected to depart Dhaka via launches this Eid, according to Ashish.

Alamgir Kabir, joint director at the Bangladesh Inland Waterways Transport Authority (BIWTA), reported a subdued start to the Eid exodus at Sadarghat, with many launches operating at half capacity. However, there is optimism that passenger numbers may rebound as the Eid holiday draws closer.

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PM Sheikh Hasina Urges UAE Investors to Tap into Bangladesh’s Special Economic Zones

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PM Sheikh Hasina Urges UAE Investors to Tap into Bangladesh's Special Economic Zones

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called on United Arab Emirates (UAE) investors to invest in Bangladesh’s special economic zones. The request was made during a meeting with UAE Ambassador Abdulla Ali Abdulla Khaseif Alhmoudi at her official residence, Ganabhaban, this morning.

According to the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, Md Nayeemul Islam Khan, the UAE ambassador assured the prime minister that his country would issue visas for Bangladeshi workers, ensuring they have jobs waiting for them in the UAE. The envoy emphasized the importance of preventing illegal migration from Bangladesh, a concern both countries agreed to address more diligently.

The UAE ambassador also mentioned that several UAE ministers are planning to visit Bangladesh soon to explore new avenues for strengthening bilateral relations. “We already have a very extensive and deep tie, but we are eager to take it to a new height,” Alhmoudi stated.

Alhmoudi highlighted that approximately 20,000 Bangladeshis travel to the UAE each month, with the UAE embassy issuing around 1,000 visas daily—500 directly and 500 through agents. He extended an invitation to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to visit the UAE, noting that UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum are eagerly waiting to welcome her.

In response to Sheikh Hasina’s appeal for UAE investment in Bangladesh’s special economic zones, Alhmoudi said that the visiting UAE ministers would discuss the matter further. The envoy also sought cooperation from the prime minister to expedite UAE investments in Bangladesh, including in the container terminal sector. Sheikh Hasina assured him that her government is accelerating processes across all sectors.

Additionally, Alhmoudi mentioned that a UAE company is in the final stages of negotiating prices to provide an Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) to Bangladesh’s civil aviation sector. The prime minister delegated the task to PMO Secretary Mohammad Salahuddin.

For security reasons, the US, EU member states, and other countries now require detailed passenger information from airlines before travel, known as Advance Passenger Information (API).

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Tarique, 14 other convicts in grenade attack case are fugitives: PM Sheikh Hasina

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Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday told Parliament that 15 convicts in the August 21 grenade attack case, including BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman, have been absconding.

“Out of the 49 convicts, 34 had been arrested. Fifteen convicts including Tarique Rahman alias Tarqiue Zia are currently fugitives,” she said.

The PM said this while replying to a question from Awami League lawmaker Farida Yasmin (Women Seat-35) during the question-answer session.

Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury tabled the question-answer session at the beginning of the day’s sitting of the Parliament, which started around 4pm.

The premier said a total of 49 accused were sentenced in the trial of the grenade attack case as the judge of Dhaka’s Speedy Trial Tribunal No-1 passed the judgment on October 10, 2018.

“Among the convicts, 19 were sentenced to death, while 19 others to life imprisonment and the rest 11 ones to various jail terms,” she added.

She said Interpol issued red notices against accused Maulana Tajuddin, Harris Chowdhury, and Ratul Ahmed Babu alias Ratul Babu who are absconding abroad. Efforts are on to arrest the convicted fugitives.

Two cases — one under the penal code and another under Explosives Substances law-– were lodged over the barbaric grenade attack on an anti-terrorism rally arranged by Awami League in the capital’s Bangabandhu Avenue on August 21, 2004.

Hasina, then opposition leader, survived the gruesome attack, but it left 24 people dead and over 500 injured.

In reply to a question from ruling party lawmaker Anwar Hossain Khan (Laxmipur-1), the prime minister said the government had designed a project to prevent the loss of lives due to lightning in the 15 lightning-prone districts.

The proposed project for the installation of some 6,793 lightning rods/lightning protection canopies has been sent to the Planning Commission, she said.

Responding to a question from AL lawmaker Md Mainul Hossain Khan (Dhaka-14), Sheikh Hasina said an initiative has been taken to establish a state-of-the-art national emergency operation centre on one acre of land in the capital’s Tejgaon area with the cooperation of China, aiming to deal with earthquakes and other mega-disasters.

The implementation work will begin by formulating a project for this building that can withstand an 8-magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale, she said.

Answering a question from independent lawmaker Abdullah Nahid Niger (Gaibandha-1), the PM said the tribunals set up after 2009 to try crimes against humanity and war criminals have so far disposed of 56 cases and 153 accused were sentenced to death or different jail terms.

He said the present government has relentlessly been working to establish the rule of law by guaranteeing fair trials to reduce the suffering of justice seekers. The government is committed to ensuring justice based on equality for all, irrespective of the rich and poor, and establishing justice in the society by making visible development in the judiciary, she said

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Met Forecasts Rain, Thundershowers, and Persistent Heat Wave

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The Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) has forecasted light to moderate rainfall or thundershowers accompanied by temporary gusty winds and moderately heavy to heavy falls across various regions of the country over the next 24 hours, starting from 9 am today.

According to the BMD bulletin released this morning, rain or thundershowers are expected in most places in Rangpur, Mymensingh, Chattogram, and Sylhet divisions. A few places in Dhaka division, and one or two locations in Rajshahi, Khulna, and Barisal divisions, will also experience such weather, with heavier falls likely in Rangpur, Mymensingh, Chattogram, and Sylhet divisions.

Additionally, the ongoing mild heat wave affecting the districts of Tangail, Faridpur, Rajshahi, Pabna, Jashore, Chuadanga, and Kushtia is expected to persist. Day temperatures may see a slight decrease in the northern regions, while remaining nearly unchanged elsewhere in the country. Night temperatures are likely to stay consistent nationwide.

On Wednesday, the highest temperature recorded was 38.0 degrees Celsius in Rajshahi, and the lowest was 22.9 degrees Celsius in Thakurgaon. The rainfall measured in the past 24 hours, ending at 6 am today, was highest in Panchagarh, with 102 mm recorded.

In Dhaka, the sun is set to rise at 5:11 am tomorrow and set at 6:47 pm today.

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