VIOLENCE AT SITAKUNDA Businesses bear brunt

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Business leaders on Saturday expressed grave concern over frequent vandalism and arson attacks on transports at Sitakunda on Dhaka-Chittagong highway that was causing serious disruption of the supply chain across the country and affecting the economy.
Businesses feared that trade and economic activities could collapse if violence continued at the Sitakunda point on the highway – the economic lifeline that connects the Chittagong sea port with the rest of the country.
The business leaders were disappointed that the administration could not yet restore order at the Sitakunda point even after taking several steps, including setting up of BGB and RAB camps in the troubled area.
‘We are totally frustrated that the measures taken by law enforcement agencies have failed to control the situation even after the deployment of BGB,’ Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed told New Age on Friday.
He said the export-oriented sectors were bearing the brunt of continued anarchy on the highway which would take a heavy toll on the national economy.
‘It is an attempt to disrupt the whole supply chain which is not only affecting businesses but also the countrymen as disruption of supply would push up the prices of essential commodities,’ the FBCCI president said.
He urged the government to take effective steps to restore order at Sitakunda before it was too late.       
Sitakunda upazila remains a safe haven for elements striking terror and targeting transports despite several steps taken by the administration to control the situation.
Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir have carried out a reign of terror particularly at 19 points on a 53km stretch of the highway in Sitakunda upazila over the past few weeks.
In the face of the situation, locals alleged that Awami League leaders and activists in Sitakunda had become completely inactive blaming the administration for not taking proper steps to free the area from violence.
In a meeting with the police administration last Wednesday, Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Mahbubul Alam expressed grave concern over frequent violence on the highway and urged the law enforces to take stern action against the people involved.
Chittagong district police super KM Hafiz told New Age that the miscreants very often changed their tactics to hoodwink the law enforcers and forcing them to change strategies in operation.
‘Now, we are proceeding with a new strategy which, we hope, would produce a better result,’ he added.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association vice-president Reaz-bin-Mahmood said that business of many garment factories would suffer as miscreants had set fire to trucks carrying their goods on Dhaka-Chittagong highway.
Exporters are also worried as many of them have failed to make shipment in due time, he said.
‘We feel insecure…How can we send consignments to the port when more than 100 covered vans have been burnt on Dhaka-Chittagong highway in last three spells of strike,’ Reaz said.
Earlier, garment exporters had sent their consignments to the port under police protection during hartal but now the situation has turned worse as vandalism and arson are taking place without hartal.

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