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Sanitaryware sales hikes in rural areas




Just two decades ago, one could hardly hope to see a well-furnished bathroom in the country’s semi-urban and rural areas.

The scenario has changed over time as people living in these regions are becoming increasingly aware of good hygiene practices.

In addition, the ongoing development works and expanding electricity coverage across the country are fuelling the market for sanitaryware, according to industry insiders.

“Rapid urbanization and changing lifestyle in line with the people’s rising purchasing power is driving the market for sanitaryware,” said Kamruzzaman Kamal, director of marketing at Pran-RFL Group.

RFL makes various bathroom fittings using metal and PVC materials.

Apart from Pran-RFL Group, Raja Metal Industries, Sharif Metal Ltd and Sattar Metal Industries are major players in the domestic sanitaryware market, which industry operators have estimated to be worth more than Tk 1,300 crore.

Irfan Uddin, general secretary of the Bangladesh Ceramic Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said there are 18 factories with a total investment of nearly Tk 2,000 crore that manufacture sanitaryware in the country.

Uddin then said the total market size was valued at Tk 1,357 crore in fiscal 2021-22 and that locally made products now dominate the once import-heavy segment.

Besides, the sanitaryware industry has created more than 9,600 opportunities for direct employment, he added.

Echoing Uddin, Kamal said although the market was dominated by imports in the past, the situation changed in the last few years as some large corporations entered the business with quality products.

The director of Pran-RFL Group went on to say that the company’s sales are increasing at an average of about 15-20pc each year.

However, he said that the recent hike in the price of USD has had a negative impact on the industry as the raw materials required are mostly imported.

As such, the cost of imports has increased by some 15-20pc in the last few months but moreover, production is being disrupted by daily load shedding and low gas pressure.

“We export our ceramic bathroom fittings mainly to India but we are planning to export metal products as well,” Kamal added.

Nazrul Islam, managing director of Raja Metal Industries, which has been making and selling kitchen and bathroom faucets for local consumers since 1970, said business growth has been quite good over the years.

“Many public and private infrastructures were built in Bangladesh over the past decade and more will be set up in the days to come. So, this industry will enjoy more business in the coming days,” he added.

Islam said that load shedding is hampering production at a time when operational costs have increased 50pc while transport charges are also higher due to the recent hike in fuel and dollar prices.

“As a result, there has been a negative impact on the business,” Islam said, adding that local consumers prefer foreign products.

“When they come across a local product, they ask for discounts, warranties, guarantees and what not because they think local products are not good.”

But when it comes to foreign products of the same make, they do not even question if a warranty is available or bargain too much either.

“This issue is very challenging,” he said.

Islam believes the government should build an industrial park for sanitaryware makers so they can avoid various barriers and concentrate on manufacturing products that are completely home-grown with locally generated raw materials.

“Such support from the government could even help the industry grow towards becoming a major exporter,” Islam added.

Akij Group, one of the biggest local industrial conglomerates, invested about Tk 90 crore for a new sanitaryware plant that will have the capacity to produce around 10,000 pieces of bathroom fittings each day.

Named Akij Bathware Ltd, the new facility located in Trishal Upazila of Mymensingh will create around 500 opportunities for direct employment, a company official said on condition of anonymity.

The factory, which is equipped to produce some 37 types of sanitaryware products, will be launched next month.

“There is no other company in Bangladesh that has the technology that we will use to make the products,” he added.

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At least 20 Umrah Pilgrims died in Saudi Arabia Bus Crash




At least 20 Umrah pilgrims were killed and 29 injured in a horrific bus crash southwest of Saudi Arabia, according to Gulf News reports.

The passenger bus crashed into a bridge on Monday, overturned, and caught fire, killing 20 and injuring 29.

According to Saudi media, the accident occurred around 4pm on the 14 km-long Aqabat Shaar road in the Asir province, as the bus was traveling from Khamis Mushayt to Abha.

The road, according to Saudi Press Agency, cuts through mountains, and has 11 tunnels and 32 bridges. When the bus was making its way down a bridge it underwent a brake failure, which caused it to crash into a barrier at the end of the bridge, overturn and catch fire. About 29 other people were also injured in the accident, according to reports.

The Saudi civil defense and Red Crescent Authority teams rushed to the site of the accident and cordoned off the area.

The deceased and the injured have reportedly been transferred to nearby hospitals.

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UN says: Extraordinary economic dev among BD’s many achievements




Greeting Bangladesh, the United Nations on Sunday (26th March) said Bangladesh has many accomplishments — extraordinary economic development, a significant cultural legacy, leadership on a global stage for climate-vulnerable countries, and immense generosity in welcoming and hosting nearly a million Rohingya refugees.

“The hospitality of Bangladesh’s diverse people is just one of the many facets of a country that my colleagues and I have been fortunate to experience every day,” UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis said in a press statement on the occasion of the country’s Independence Day.

“On behalf of the United Nations, I warmly congratulate the people of Bangladesh on the 52nd anniversary of independence,” she said.

Over the last 52 years, Bangladesh has made impressive and remarkable achievements: evolving from a war-torn country to one of the leading economic powers in South Asia, standing at the threshold of upcoming graduation from least developed countries (LDCs) in 2026, and planned achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDG) by 2030, she said.

The UN fully supports Bangladesh’s commitments to economic and sustainable development and appreciates the strong and long-lasting relationship with Bangladesh and our shared values.

The constitution of the country, which was adopted even before Bangladesh had formally become a member of the United Nations in 1974, guarantees fundamental human rights. The right to freedom of speech, religion, movement and assembly, the right to speak one’s own language and other rights that are in line with the UN charter, said the UNRC.

“Wishing you all a Happy Independence Day!” — she concluded.

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PM Sheikh Hasina, President pays homage to Liberation War Martyrs




Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina & President M Abdul Hamid paid rich tributes to the Liberation War martyrs by placing wreaths at the National Memorial at Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka early on Sunday (26th March), marking the 53rd Independence and National Day.

The president first placed the wreath at the altar of the memorial followed by the prime minister.

After laying the wreaths, the president and the premier stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect for the memories of the martyrs of the Great War of Liberation in 1971.

A smartly turned-out contingent drawn from Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force presented a state salute at that time while the bugles played the last post.

The head of the state and the head of the government also signed the visitors’ book kept on the memorial premises.

Flanked by her party leaders, Sheikh Hasina, also the president of the Awami League, paid glowing tributes to the Liberation War martyrs by placing another wreath at the National Memorial on behalf of her party.

Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique, senior AL leaders, leaders of AL-led 14-party alliance and high civil and military officials, among others, were present there.

Later, the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) speaker and the chief justice also paid homage to the martyrs by placing wreaths at the National Mausoleum.

Every year, March 26 brings the most tragic reminiscence of history’s blackest episode that heralded a nine-month bloody ordeal from the night of March 25, 1971, achieving the long-cherished independence on December 16 the same year at the cost of a sea of blood.

In the wake of the military crackdown by the then Pakistan occupation force, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh through the then EPR (East Pakistan Rifles) wireless at 00-30 hours on March 26 (the night following March 25) in 1971 at his historic Road-32 residence at Dhanmondi in Dhaka.

The day is very auspicious and precious to the Bengali nation.

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