Owners worried as AL grabs hoardingsHasan Major and Muktadir Rashid
Owners are worried as the ruling Awami League has launched a campaign occupying their hoardings in all strategic points in the capital highlighting the government’s achievements in the past four years and a half.
Almost all the hoardings in the city have been covered with banners overnight, showing the AL-led government’s success in various sectors but not mentioning the names of sponsors that created confusion and also sparked adverse criticism among people.
The mass communications department under the information ministry has already given a work order to Apan Communications to carry out the massive campaign focusing on the AL-led government’s successes in various sectors under different ministries, officials said.
The director general of the mass communications department, Tasir Ahmed, however, brushed aside his department’s involvement in the ongoing hoarding campaign on government’s successes across the capital.
He told New Age on Tuesday that the political party (the Awami League) was carrying out the campaign before the official launch of a countrywide mass awareness campaign.
‘We are facing a fund crunch in launching the campaign. This is why it is quite impossible for us to carry out the massive campaign on the government’s achievements on hoardings in Dhaka,’ Tasir said.
Tasir, who signed the work order on May 2, was not certain whether the event management firm had already begun the campaign.
Hoarding owners alleged that the ruling party people had grabbed the hoardings in the capital to carry on the campaign and they had not bothered about informing the owners of using the hoardings let alone paying the rent.
A hoarding owner said that they were frightened to
raise their voice against the occupancy of the hoardings as each of the large banners had carried portraits of Bangladesh’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and her eldest daughter Shiekh Hasina, the prime minister.
The government has also taken elaborate programmes under the project by the name of Special Mass Awareness Campaign on Development Activities to make people aware of the government’s achievements in communications, power generation, remittance earning, employment generation, law and order and holding fair elections among others things.
The government has also set a target to reach its success stories to more than eight crore people through the programmes.
The programmes include a seven-day fair on the south plaza of the national assembly complex and at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre, a three-day fair in each of the districts.
In the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the fair will be held only in four upazilas — Patiya, Ramgarh, Lama and Kaptai.
‘Promos’ will be aired on private television channels regularly and advertisements will be published in daily newspapers highlighting the ‘successes.’
Large-scale road shows will be held in each of the districts but the Chittagng Hill Tracts. Posters, leaflets, festoons, folders, campaign souvenirs, branded bags, mugs, umbrellas, pens and coat pins will be distributed to people as part of the campaign.
The mass communications department and the ministries concerned have already been asked to execute the whole campaign while deputy commissioners and superintendents of police at the district level and upazila nirbahi officers at the upazila level will help in the countrywide venture, according to the project paper.
A five-member committee of the mass communications department will monitor the campaign.
After an inter-ministerial meeting, Ruhul Amin Bhuiyan Arif, the managing director and chief executive officer of the Apan Group, told New Age on Monday , ‘We have begun the campaign using hoardings to highlight the Awami League government’s success.’
Asked about the source of the fund, Arif, however, avoided a direct answer. He said, ‘Money is not a matter to us…. Many people are willing to fund the campaign on government successes.’
Documents available show that the decision to conduct the campaign involving sponsors was was made towards the end of 2012.
As part of the decision, the mass communications department floated a tender for the campaign project on February 28.
The department took Tk 20 lakh in deposit from event management firm Apan Communications.
The organiser said that the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, was scheduled to inaugurate the formal launch of the campaign on August 23.
The hoarding owners said that no leader of the Awami League and its front organisations or any representative of the government or the event management company had approached them before putting large banners on the hoardings covering the advertisements that their clients had already paid for.
The Bangladesh Billboard Owners’ Association general secretary, Mohammad Rashed, told New Age that their clients were complaining about their adverts being plastered under another set of campaigns and demanding money refund.
Rashed said that if the government had made any success, people would know about it automatically as development works were visible.
When attention was called to the issue, the Awami League’s press and publicity secretary Hasan Mahmud, also the environment minister, confirmed that the party’s front organisations had launched the hoarding campaign in the capital. He did not detail the source of the money spent on the campaign.
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