Lawsuits, allegations of irregularities and question paper leaks have marred recruitment in the eastern zone of Bangladesh Railway, resulting in around 35 percent posts being left vacant for years.
At least five cases and a barrage of allegations surfaced when the BR authorities were trying to recruit people in recent years.
The written exam for trade apprentice was nullified by the authorities in December 2017 following allegations of question paper leak. Since then, no step has been taken to retake the exams.
In 2015, BR had held examinations to recruit 865 Khalasi (helpers) but could not proceed as 97 candidates filed four cases seeking nullification of the exam.
BR then kept 85 posts vacant for the complainants, whom it deemed had the grounds to file the cases, and sought recommendation from the law ministry on how to proceed.
It eventually arranged viva voce for candidates around five months ago but it too got bogged down following allegations of irregularities. BR Sramik Karmachari Parishad, in press conference on December 31 last year, complained that a syndicate was appointing Khalasis in exchange for money.
The parishad sought intervention from the prime minister.
Recruitment to another category of LDA (lower division assistant) faced the same situation as some aspirants filed cases after the written exam were held in 2014.
In a press conference, Mohammed Ali, member secretary of the parishad, claimed that this recruitment process was not at all legal or being done following rules and regulations.
It is being done in exchange for money, excluding the meritorious candidates, he alleged, adding that the recruitment was being made “behind closed doors”.
Contacted, Railway Minister Mujibul Haque told The Daily Star that the allegations raised by some quarters were baseless.
“When we publish a circular for 200 people, 20,000 apply. I can't recruit all of them ... People who got rejected in the recruitment process raise the allegations, which are 100 percent baseless,” he said.
He further said the railway authorities were trying to solve the cases so that the recruitment process gains momentum.
When asked about question paper leak, he said they take steps to nullify exams when there are allegations on good grounds.
“We nullified the trade apprentice exam a few months ago. Legal steps would be taken against people involved in question paper leak,” he said.
According to the BR sources, there are 20,000 posts sanctioned in railway east zone organogram in various categories and 7,000 posts, most of them third- and fourth-class employees, are vacant.
The departments that are affected most by manpower shortage are chief mechanical engineer's office, chief engineer's office, and chief transportation officer's office.
A total of 7,509 persons have been working at the three offices against 11,838 posts.