Sonia Akhter was over the moon the moment she got the smart NID card for the first time in life.
"I was very excited thinking of getting the card for the first time and finally I've got it. I'm a voter now," said the elated 20-year-old student of Begum Badrunnesa Government Girls' College.
Sonia, a resident of Kakrail, was one of those who turned up to the NID Card Distribution Centre set up at Siddheshwari Girls' College in the capital yesterday as the Election Commission started distributing the cards for the residents of Dhaka at two centres.
The other centre was set up at Uttara High School and College. Outside Dhaka, the cards were distributed only in Kurigram.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad inaugurated the distribution of the cards at Dhashiarchhara centre in Phulbari upazila in Kurigram and gave cards to 20 people of the former enclave Dashiarchhara, reports our Kurigram correspondent.
The smart cards will be given to all voters in phases. Currently, there are over 10 crore voters in Bangladesh. Of them, nine crore will get smart NID cards by December 2017 under the ongoing project. For the rest, a new project will be launched by this time, said EC officials.
The Daily Star correspondent visited one of the centres and found a mixed picture of the distribution process. Although many voters like Sonia expressed satisfaction over the process, some complained of complications in the fingerprint scanning.
In Siddheshwari Girls College centre, people started gathering since 9:00am. A long queue was seen in the morning, but the crowd started to thin out after lunch. The citizens had to provide fingerprints and iris impressions for getting the cards. The distribution went on till 4:00pm.
Fatema-tuz-Johura, a master' student of North South University, who came to the centre with an old NID card, had to try for a long time to scan her fingerprints.
"I had to come here twice to give my fingerprints as it did not match first time," she said, adding that the officials gave her the card after getting her four fingerprints matched second time.
"I am very happy that I finally got my card,” she said.
Talking to The Daily Star about the complexity of the fingerprint scanning, SM Rokibuzzaman Neon, a technical expert of EC, said it occurred when someone did not have a clear fingerprint to read.
"Sweating, skin disease and some work habit, like chopping, may make the fingerprint unclear,” he said. "We are using more improved and super-fast scanners to do the job."
Some others, however, complained about the mismanagement in the centres.
"The people are not following the queue properly. Things would have been better if they [the officials] managed the process more carefully," said Shushil Kumar Dutta, a businessman from Kakrail.
About the fingerprint complexity, Sirajul Islam, secretary of Election Commission Secretariat, told this newspaper that such a few technical problems might occur as it was machine dependent.
Asked why some cards had been given without matching fingerprints completely, he replied, "Won't we give the cards if anyone's fingerprints don't match hundred percent?
"We want to deliver the cards to people. The cards will be given when we found a matching of a certain minimum level."
He said alternative biometric samples, retina scan, were being collected in this phase to overcome such problems.
Around 1,900 smart cards were provided in Dhaka, said EC officials.
Around 2,562 people in Phulbari upazila will get the smart card, reports our Kurigram Correspondent.
Election Commissioner Mohammad Abu Hafiz said the smart card holders could vote in the upcoming Union Parishad elections scheduled for October 31 this year.