POST TIME: 12 December, 2016 00:00 00 AM
Japan to lift security alert, says Muhith

Japan to lift security alert, says Muhith

Japan will withdraw its security alert issued for its citizens in Bangladesh following the Holey Artisan Bakery terrorist attack on July 1 this year, finance minister AMA Muhith said yesterday. “Security has been strengthened for the citizens of Japan to work in Bangladesh. They feel reassured after learning of the initiatives to strengthen security. There will be no lack of security for Japanese citizens in Bangladesh,” he said while briefing reporters at the Secretariat yesterday after a three-day visit to Japan. Senior finance secretary Mahbul Ahmed and senior secretary of the Economic Relations Division (ERD), Mohammad Mejbahuddin, were present at the briefing.
The finance minister returned home on Saturday. During his visit, he met the finance minister of Japan, the state minister for foreign affairs, and the president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Md Abul Quasem, managing director of Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh, yesterday told The Independent that they had taken adequate security measures for Japanese citizens working at the site of the Matarbari 2X600 MW ultra-super-critical coal-fired power plant.
The finance minister flew to Japan to reassure the country about the security measures taken for Japanese citizens working in Bangladesh, as persistent anxieties among JICA officials were hampering the progress of 18 JICA-funded projects, though some five months had passed since the Gulshan terrorist attack on July 1.
Japanese experts are working in Dhaka, but they do not go to project sites because they have to abide by a JICA security code.
This was learnt at a review meeting on JICA-funded projects, held recently at the ERD and chaired by the ERD’s additional secretary, Shah Amin Haque.
Sources present there said the JICA reiterated its stand that its officials would not go to project sites until there was greater security.
Senior officials of implementing agencies, project directors, and representatives of the Japanese embassy and the JICA were also present at the meeting.
The JICA had clearly stated that its officials would not go project sites until the security situation at the sites improved.
An official who attended the meeting said the JICA had expressed satisfaction over security arrangements only at one particular project.
The government took the necessary security measures in all JICA-funded projects after the militant attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan, in which seven Japanese engineers and consultants were killed. They worked in development projects being implemented by the JICA in Bangladesh.
The JICA appointed a consulting firm for the Matarbari ultra-super-critical coal-fired power plant. But the firm’s officials do not go to the project site in Moheskhali (in Cox’s Bazar).
Moreover, the Finance Division has turned down the procurement of vehicles, though the site is situated in a remote area. Besides, the Bangladesh Bank is delaying the payment of the consultation fee. In addition, the schedule of a project feasibility study has been changed.
The director of the Matarbari power plant project said a total of 20 policemen, 63 armed Ansars, 20 Battalion Ansars, and seven Coast Guards had been deployed. He said they had written to the home ministry for the deployment of additional security personnel. Altogether 30 armed policemen have been posted at the Bheramara combined cycle power plant and officials of the bidding entity and consulting firm are working at the project site. Closed-circuit cameras have been set up to ensure security. Some 12 Ansars have been deployed at the depot area of the metro rail project at Uttara in Dhaka. A steel wall boundary is being erected as a security shield. The implementing agency also urged the home ministry to deploy 40 more Ansar battalions. Besides, security measures have been put in place at the office of the consulting firm at Gulshan and residences of its officials in Uttara. Similar security measures have been adopted for other JICA-funded projects, the review meeting was informed. The government had deployed extra police personnel and set up CCTV cameras and built security walls at the project sites, the meeting was told.