The Karnaphuli Export Processing Zone in Chittagong is expected to begin full-swing operations within this year as necessary development works with adequate infrastructure facilities are almost complete.
Earlier, the Karnaphuli EPZ authorities handed over 255 plots to 52 companies, said an official of Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (Bepza) at the Karnaphuli EPZ.
Most of the new enterprises would make products, including readymade garments, footwear and camping materials, and they would invest around $118 million creating employment for about 22,000 people, the official said, asking not to be named.
With an aim of creating direct employment for about 50,000 people, the EPZ started partial operations on about 222.42 acres of lands in North Patenga and Halishahar area -- about six kilometres from Chittagong Port -- in September 2006.
According to the Bepza official, with investment of $183 million and a workforce of about 21,000 people, the Karnaphuli EPZ is now host to 36 enterprises including 27 fully foreign, two joint venture and seven Bangladeshi companies.
Products worth of $370 million have been exported since the EPZ went for partial operations, he said, adding that exports are expected to reach about $175 million by the end of the current fiscal year.
Products worth $137.68 million were exported in fiscal 2010-2011, said the official.
Works for setting up industrial units by 16 new companies are still going on. Of them, 10 companies are set to start their operations within the next six months, said the Bepza official.
Md Ahsan Kabir, general manager of Karnaphuli EPZ, said they are now contributing on an average Tk 1.5 crore to Tk 2 crore per month to the state coffer.
More investors are showing interest in the EPZ as it offers easy communications and other infrastructures, he said.
"Two more buildings will be built to facilitate accommodations for new companies."
But officials at different industrial units at the EPZ said, despite having all the facilities, production is being hampered severely due to a lack of uninterrupted electricity supply.
Syed Atikur Rahman Jamal, manager for finance at Eusebio Sporting Ltd, an industrial unit in the EPZ, said the location of the EPZ is suitable for doing business.
Moreover, infrastructures and other facilities at the export processing zone are favourable, he said.
About the electricity problem, Md Ahsan Kabir of the Karnaphuli EPZ said, "We have requested the authorities to ensure ceaseless electricity supply at the EPZ," he said.
"The supply of electricity should be a top priority as employment of many people depends on the EPZ," Kabir said, adding: "The government is very much positive in this regard."
With the full-swing operations of the EPZ, small businesses in the adjacent areas will also get a boost. Several markets have already been set up outside the EPZ area in the last two years.
When the EPZ will begin its full-fledged operations, about one lakh people would be employed through different related businesses such as food supply and transportation, the EPZ officials said.