The railway authorities must curb corruption and ensure proper management of recourses, instead of increasing fares for passengers and freight, to minimise financial losses, discussants told a meeting organised by Bangladesh Passengers' Welfare Association at the Dhaka Reporters' Unity yesterday, protesting the government's move to hike railway fare.
Faulty policies of the authorities, corruption in financial management, pilfering fuel by corrupt employees, dilapidated engines and negligence of the government are the key reasons behind financial losses in the sector, they said, adding that the nuisance must be addressed urgently to offset losses.
Railway Minister Mazibul Hoque on January 14 told a press conference that the ministry had sent a proposal to the Prime Minister to increase train fares by 7.8 percent from next month to minimise losses.
Although people have a preference for travelling and carrying their goods by trains, the government shows sheer negligence to this sector's development, said eminent economist Prof Anu Muhammad.
Due to such negligence, the capacity and manpower of Bangladesh Railway have been declined over the years. Besides, "wrong" policies prescribed by different multilateral development lenders have compounded the situation, he added.
Anu Muhammad also demanded that the railway authorities publish "White Paper" with detailed information showing how much money was allocated to the railway sector in the last few years and how much development has been made.
Abu Naser Khan, chairman of Poribesh Bachao Andolon, emphasised proper planning by the railway authorities, and demanded removal of Mazibul Hoque from the ministry for the betterment of this sector.
Zonayed Saki, chief coordinator of Gano Samhati Andolan, demanded reduction of existing fare, instead of increasing it. A written statement presented at the discussion by the Bangladesh Passengers' Welfare Association said such fare hike had reduced the number of passengers and intensified the sector's losses.