Department of Explosives in Chattogram division has been reeling from manpower crisis for a long time. At present, only two officials and seven office staffers are running administrative work of 11 districts under the division.
Though it is an important department, set up in 1973 under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, there is no sub-office in the 11 districts. As a result, officials from the Chattogram divisional office often have to go there for administrative work, said sources.
The department includes one explosives inspector, one assistant explosives inspector, one technical assistant, one upper division assistant, one office assistant/computer operator and one office assistant working at the Chattogram office in Agrabad.
According to officials, this department is the administrative authority for importing, storing and monitoring commercial explosives, and flammable and unfired pressure vessels.
Apart from that, the department gives approval for setting up gas pipelines, cylinders or plants; and monitoring gas cylinder plants, CNG-refuelling stations and filling stations.
It also provides licences to explosives importers and carriers as well as gives permission to dismantle scrap vessels after field visits.
The officials also investigate incidents involving explosives and file reports after monitoring and field visits. According to the office, there were eight incidents of explosions in Chattogram in 2019, which were probed by the department.
"From the Chattogram office, we are dealing with official work of 11 districts. At times, we even have to work on weekends to handle the workload," Explosives Inspector Md Tofazzal Hossain told The Daily Star recently.
"We have digitised some issues, so that people don't have to travel from other districts. But we still have to go for field visits and other official purposes," he added.
According to office sources, the assistant explosives inspector joined the Chattogram office a few years back. Before that, Tofazzal had to deal with the issues by himself. "The workload has increased manifolds over the last 20 years but our manpower did not," he added.
According to the department's annual report, a proposal for creating 1,115 posts countrywide and reshuffling existing official organogram is now on the table to address the manpower crisis.
Contacted, Md Anisur Rahman, senior secretary of Energy and Mineral Resources Division, told The Daily Star that they are facing a manpower shortage in all the departments. "We are trying to solve the issue. We will hire more manpower countrywide soon."
He also mentioned the proposal to create 1,115 posts and said they are discussing it with authorities concerned.
The department's head office is in Dhaka, and it has five branch offices in Chattogram, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Barishal. An inspector heads each branch office.
Apart from that, the department has a testing laboratory in the capital's Segunbagicha, which provides testing facilities for explosives and different materials coming under purview of acts and rules administered by the department.