Akbor Haider Munna, Director, Youth Group and a young entrepreneur, shared his views on the infrastructural problem, automation and economic zone in a recent conversation with Textile Today FT Research Team. Here is the glimpse of the discussion for the readers.
Bad impact on export due to traffic
Lack of infrastructural facilities which is a by-product of bureaucratic tangles is one of the major barriers to the industrialization of the country.
Garment industries are divided into several zones including Gazipur, Tangail, Mymensingh, Chandra, Ashulia, Dhaka, Narsingdi etc. These zones have numerous factories and the using of vehicles to export-import creates heavy traffic on the road. According to industrial police, around 2000 factories situated at Ashulia-Gazipur zone. Due to the slow construction of Konabari and Chandra flyover, a couple of hours are being wasted on the highway. Also, the government is not taking any visible step to facilitate the Ashulia road.
Our buyers wonder how Bangladesh is managing such horrible traffic condition as they experience the horrible traffic when visiting Bangladesh. Literally, this traffic is killing our valuable working hours and the four-lane highways are not giving us expected facility.
When a buyer says they will visit us, full management get anxious! This is not just happening with us, this is the story of every manufacturer who is dealing with foreign buyers. However, if the effective initiative is taken from the government to reduce traffic congestion and it also helps the factories, then this horrendous situation could be mitigated.
In the Gazipur belt, there are more than 400 factories and around 2000 or more vehicles daily route to give the employee’s a transport service. But, if there were a shuttle train or professional bus service then this traffic could be avoided. Besides, highway traffic management can take the responsibility to facilitate the industrial zones properly.
Fixed plot in an economic zone may create difficulty
Bangladesh economy is witnessing a boom like never before. RMG sector has a dream to export $50 billion by 2021. To make the dream come true and attract large-scale foreign investment, the Bangladesh government took a great initiative to establish 100 special economic zones across the country on 75,000 acres of land by 2030.
Usually, there is a fixed plot for each factory in an economic zone. But if the business goes well and after a certain time the miller will want to expand and I think it will be difficult because of limited land. In that case, we can build a factory outside of the economic zone if the government approves.
Stable business environment is a must
On the other hand, labor or political discontent is a barrier to run business in Bangladesh, an RMG friendly country. If any unwanted situation happens like political turmoil or price reduction by the buyers, small factories cannot survive in the business.
So, keeping in mind the present scenario, big factories should be made instead of a 3/4-line garment. The industry is fast forwarding towards automation. Industry stakeholders are anxious that if automation is adopted, labor employment will be clipped extensively from the textile and apparel industry.
However, we are not unanimous about this issue. Migration percentage of workers in Comfit per month is around only 6-10%.
If a worker gives 80% efficiency, after his/her migration the post is appointed with someone new who again need at least 6 months to gain the same level of efficiency. But, there is no problem with automated machinery. From the beginning, it will work with 100% efficiency.
Although automation will bring profit margin, cost-effectiveness, generating more foreign currency, increasing production and ultimate relief for the manufacturers, end of the day, it will directly cut employment.
Besides, we need political stability for economic development. Infrastructural support is a priority, and both the government and the textile and apparel industry must work in tandem. The government should take a proper decision about the transport issue especially for making 4 lanes in Ashulia and Gazipur highway.