DHAKA, Bangladesh

Bangladesh opened a month-long international trade fair on Saturday on the outskirts of the capital for the first time at a permanent venue after skipping 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From her official residence, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina virtually inaugurated the largest trade fair of the South Asian delta nation of 170 million people.

She declared ICT products and services to be the “products of the year 2022” during the inauguration of the 26th Dhaka International Trade Fair.

The fair has 227 stalls, and 11 countries, including Turkiye, are taking part in the event.

Due to the overcrowded location in the capital Dhaka, authorities decided not to risk holding the large gathering last year, and instead permanently relocated it to a more environmentally friendly location.

Pleasant environment

The large cornfield around the fair venue at the Bangabandhu Bangladesh-China Friendship Exhibition Centre in Purbachal, nearly 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) from the city center, piqued the interest of visitors.

“It’s a nice place, and I came to visit here with my child and other family members. I bought some things for my child and hope to come again,” housewife Mita Akhter told Anadolu Agency.

But for now, most of the stalls were incomplete, with employees busy setting them up.

“We weren’t able to complete our setup because it’s far from the main (areas of the) capital and commuting is disrupted right now,” said Md. Rifat Rahman, an employee at a stall, adding that he expects they will all be open within a few days.

Despite the fear of the pandemic, particularly the new omicron variant, he said they are pleased with the new location.

Voicing similar views, businessman Mohammad Sarwar Hossain said: “The venue provides us with the benefit of maintaining social distance. Many people, though, are still insensitive. Amid the pandemic, many people are attending the fair with children and elderly relatives, so I’m pleading the government to appoint more law enforcement to ensure coronavirus health guidelines.”

According to visitors, a road that is still under construction covers a large portion of the route from central Dhaka to the fair site.

“The roads are quite bad, and we have to deal with severe dust pollution almost the whole way to get here,” Mohammad Zaman, a visitor from Dhaka’s old city, told Anadolu Agency.

Before launching the fair, he said, the government should have taken into account the hazardous road conditions.

But Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has said 30 buses will soon be available to transport fairgoers from the city’s Kuril overpass.

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