Monday, 18 October, 2021

Why foreign bitumen neglecting local one?

Why foreign bitumen neglecting local one?

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Reducing dependency on imports by providing necessary support to local industries is known to be one of the most priorities of the government. If so, the country has gone another step ahead to achieve that target, as the country is now all set to be self-reliant in the production of world-class bitumen, a hydrocarbon-based substance that is mostly used in roads and highway construction. After a recent visit, a delegation of experts comprising of top officials of the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), has reportedly expressed their satisfaction over the quality of bitumen produced in Bashundhara Bitumen Plant that started its journey in February last as the lone private venture of such a kind with an annual production capacity of nine lakh tonnes, far more than the country’s total demand.

The annual demand of five lakh tonnes against the government-run factory’s production capacity of 70,000 tonnes had forced the authorities to allow businesspersons to import bitumen from different countries for years. Cashing in on the situation, many dishonest persons used to import low-quality bitumen for years. Several times, news spread regarding the audacity of these businessmen to compel government engineers to use their products despite the sub-standard quality. Even a few days ago, the High Court had turned down a plea of two importers who, after failing to release sub-standard bitumen consignments, filed the writ petition seeking to bypass the quality test.   

Low standard bitumen is too weak to ensure desired longevity of roads and highways, causing severe economic loss every year. On the other hand, projects implementation is often delayed as the shipments of foreign bitumen take a long time for freight processing. So, getting an appreciation of the quality of locally produced bitumen from the delegation team is really a good piece of news for the country.

Policymakers, therefore, should urgently make a prudent policy of stopping the import of low-quality bitumen not only to save local industries but also to ensure the use of quality products produced locally. At the same time, the policy of imposing unjust tax on local production of bitumen should be reconsidered. We have the potentials to export bitumen after fulfilling local demand. All we need to transform that potential into reality is just a matter of policy reformation now.