Despite having a fully functional airport, residents of Bogura district have been suffering for the last 30 years as the airport is yet to launch passenger flights.
Bogura has emerged as a major commercial hub in northern Bangladesh in the past few decades but commuting from the district to the capital, Dhaka, has always been a hassle for its residents, impeding its agricultural and economic development.
However, after the inauguration of Bangabandhu Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge, the transport-related problems have lessened, but commuters still need at least six to seven hours to reach Dhaka by road.
Now, residents have demanded that commercial flight facilities should be started urgently from the airport.
“There are all the necessary infrastructures and international standard runways for the aircraft landing and flight at the airport. The project just needs a nod from the government,” said Touhidur Rahman Manik, mayor of Shibgonj municipality.
The district is also very important considering its geographical location. Yet, no effective measure has been taken yet to initiate passenger flights at the airport, added the mayor.
Hence, the people of Bogura have been pressing the demand to establish a full-fledged airport for a long time.
“However, they have been utterly disappointed because it has just remained as a promise but has not come into reality in the last three decades,” said Bogura Chamber of Commerce Chairman Masud Ur Rahman.
Earlier, the issue of Bogura airport was discussed during a conference of the deputy commissioners. At the conference, a proposal was submitted to establish an airport in Bogura district to promote tourism in the region.
According to sources, the airport is currently being used just for flying the training aircraft of the Air Force but does not allow commercial airlines to use the facility.
Different political parties have garnered votes from the residents of Bogura promising to launch the commercial flights, but after forming the government, the issue has always been largely ignored, said local sources.
During the rule of BNP from 1991-1996, the airport project got a go-ahead in a conference of ECNEC.
At that time, the construction of the runway started in the Erulia area of the district. The cost of the project was estimated at Tk 22 crore, and the ruling government acquired 110 acres of land for the construction, said the DC office sources.
And after the start of construction work, it was expected that the project would be completed in 2000, and the commercial planes would start operating at Bogura airport in 2001.
However, no successive government has yet taken any effective step to launch the service since then, presumably fearing the probable loss that the service might incur if initiated.
According to the Bogura Deputy Commissioner Office, Bangladesh Air Force submitted a report to the government in June after investigating the feasibility of starting a commercial flight at the airport following strong public demand for the service. But no headway in this regard has yet come into focus.
At least 100 acres of land are still needed to accommodate more runways, oil reserve tanks, and equipment to provide other facilities to the passengers.
The government has a plan to buy the necessary land. However, the DC office has not received any letter yet concerning the acquisition of the land, said the DC office sources.
Member of Parliament (MP) of Bogura-5 constituency Alhaz Habibur Rahman said, “I have talked about the matter in the parliament. If passenger flights start in Bogura airport, it will not only be beneficial for the people of Bogura but also for the people from neighbour districts.”
The famous archaeological site Mahasthangarh is located in Bogura, which draws countless tourists from home and abroad. People of Bogura expect that the establishment of the airport will boost tourism and trade in the country, he said.