The railways ministry has explained its position against the six-point demands of Dhaka University student Mohiuddin Roni over alleged mismanagement in Bangladesh Railways.
After being harassed when buying a train ticket, Roni started a sit-in and a public mass signature campaign in front of the ticket counter of Kamalapur Railway Station on 7 July.
On 9 July, policemen barred his sit-in programme. Since then, he has stopped his signature campaign but started a 24-hour sit-in programme. Many other students joined the protest in solidarity with him.
Roni's unique protest went viral promting the ministry to issue a statement on Thursday (21 July), transcribed below:
1) Computerised ticketing of Bangladesh Railways has been in operation since 1994. Initially, ticketing was started in a standalone system at 27 stations, but with the passage of time and in view of the modernity of the digital system, Bangladesh Railways is conducting ticketing activities at 83 stations through the latest technological techniques. Sahaj Limited JV is currently handling the ticketing operations. Currently, tickets are being issued to passengers through counter, online and mobile apps.
In the case of issue of tickets, regular monitoring is done by the concerned officer and if any complaint of passenger harassment is raised against any officer/employee of Railways, departmental action or disciplinary action is taken after investigation.
Over the past 28 years, the system has been upgraded whenever necessary in view of passenger demand or technical excellence, as Bangladesh Railways is accountable to the citizens of the country for providing passenger services. Bangladesh Railways will take measures to implement the same if there are clear opinions, views or recommendations for the development of the Railways ticketing system.
2) There are various activities going on against the ticket black market in the Bangladesh Railways. Various CCTV cameras have been installed. Passenger's name, NID number, age, and gender are mentioned on the ticket so that a ticket purchased in one's name cannot be used by another. Moreover, there is a provision in the ticketing system that a person cannot purchase Railways tickets more than twice in seven days through the online/mobile app.
Already, the process of ticket issuance has started by verifying the data of national identity cards stored in the Election Commission's server. The fee fixed by the Election Commission has been deposited on behalf of Bangladesh Railways. Soon the Bangladesh Railways will sign the agreement with the Bangladesh Election Commission. After that, the process of verifying national identity card will start in ticket management of Bangladesh Railways, through which it will be possible to stop the opportunity of a person to purchase tickets under different names or in different ways. Moreover, various initiatives have already been taken by the Railways Police to prevent ticket black market in stations.
It has been possible to prevent black market of tickets to a large extent. However, if any suggestion is received in this regard, Bangladesh Railways will take measures to implement it.
It should be noted that Bangladesh Railways is committed to providing passenger services by establishing a transparent and accountable rail communication system. If complaints are received about various irregularities of the Railways, departmental disciplinary action is taken against the concerned officer/employee immediately as per prevailing laws.
3) There is no facility to block online quota tickets or book tickets in the Bangladesh Railways ticketing system. Also, online or counter (offline) ticketing has equal rights for all citizens of Bangladesh. Any citizen can purchase tickets by following the procedure prescribed by the Railways subject to availability of tickets. There is no scope for ticket discrimination in the ticketing system of Bangladesh Railways.
4) The number of trains has been greatly increased in view of passenger demand. Before the current government came to power in 2009, there were 218 passenger trains running on Bangladesh Railways. Out of which there were 64 inter-city trains, 2 inter-country trains and 152 local/mail/express trains. At present, the number of passenger trains in Bangladesh Railways in 2022 is 366. Out of which 104 inter-city trains, 8 inter-country trains and 254 local/mail/express trains. That is, passenger trains have increased by 148 in the last 13 years. Out of which the number of inter-city trains has been increased by 40, inter-country trains by 6 and local/mail/express trains by 102. Moreover, various projects for increasing the Railways network and increasing the number of trains are underway, as a result of which 16 more districts will soon come under the railway network.
5) The recruitment process in Bangladesh Railways was closed for a long time. Recruitment process has started recently. Due to lack of manpower, passenger services are hampered in some cases despite the goodwill. It may be mentioned that according to the current manpower structure in Bangladesh Railways, TTE sanctioned 369 posts, working 122 people, zero 247 posts. TC sanctioned 363 posts, 116 working and 247 vacant posts. That is, most of the posts associated with ticket checking activities are vacant, so the checking activities are being disrupted. However, once the ongoing recruitment process is completed, the monitoring process in the train can be completed more smoothly.
6) Various train catering establishments are engaged in providing food in trains. Railways have fixed food prices lower than the current market price. Monitoring activities are conducted by concerned officials of Bangladesh Railways to ensure supply of food at reduced and fair prices. Moreover, each coach of the intercity train carries the food price list and the phone number of the concerned railway officials. If there is a complaint of passenger harassment or if there is an overcharge of the food during the monitoring process, the catering establishment is fined as per the rules.
Besides, for the purpose of free supply of fresh water, the important and major stations of Bangladesh Railways have been kept clean water well. A passenger can drink and collect fresh water free of charge.
Moreover, the sanitation system is being modernised. Currently, sanitation modernisation activities including increasing platform height, construction of fencing are going on in 60 stations.