CITF cut short to vacate venue for AL ‘grand’ rallyTushar Hayat . Chittagong
The curtailment of the ongoing Chittagong International Trade Fair in the Railway Polo Ground four days ahead of time to accommodate a request of the Awami League-led ruling alliance for holding its March 28 grand rally has irked the participants of the expo.
Sources at the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the organiser of the month-long expo, said they would have to curtail the CITF on March 20 instead of March 24 as scheduled to vacate the venue for holding the grand rally expected to be addressed by prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
The 20th CITF was launched on February 24 with 350 businesses from home and aboard, including India, Pakistan, China, Japan, the USA, the UAE, and Iran.
MG Shakaria, stall-in-charge of N Mohammed Plastic Limited, said the fair took a couple of weeks to draw a satisfactory number of visitors, adding that the exhibition venue had remained packed with visitors in the past week.
‘The fair will be concluded before the stipulated time this year, while the authorities usually extend the fair by several days every year considering the huge rush of visitors,’ he said, adding that the owners of stalls and pavilions at the fair would incur huge losses due to this early end.
Riaz Ahmed, in-charge of the stall of Gazi Group, said curtailment of the fair would not only result in the participating businesses incurring losses but also tarnish the country’s image as businesses from a number of foreign countries were also taking part in the expo.
‘There are several other large venues like the Outer Stadium, Laldighi Maidan, and the Parade Ground in the city in any of which the grand alliance can hold the rally,’ Riaz said, adding that curtailment of an international trade fair for a political rally could in no way be accepted.
CCCI president Morshed Murad Ibrahim, also a vice chairman of the grand alliance partner Jatya Party, however, said they were scheduled to vacate the venue even earlier, on March 15.
‘Initially, we were scheduled to launch the fair on February 15 and conclude it on March 15. The problem arose as we could not initiate the fair on time,’ he said, adding that they had extended the visiting time of the exhibition by one hour to make up for the losses apprehended by the stall owners.
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