The Anti-Corruption Commission has filed a corruption case against three high-ups and a former managing director of Biman, in connection with a scam in the recruitment process of pilots. According to the FIR, some 28 out of 32 pilot cadets failed the tests but were recruited anyway, using “grace marks” to inflate their scores, and the scoring system of the exam was a departure from the Operations Manual of Biman. Not only was there a highly irregular examination, but even the age limit was raised to 40, which is a contravention of set rules.
This is a shameful event that has come to light recently, and yet we find that even now the current managing director and other senior officials are making excuses about not taking action against those who passed this flawed examination, and those who allowed rules to be bent to accommodate certain people. The excuses that the appointments have already been approved by the Board, and they are not aware of the 13 recruits (including the nephew of a former managing director) spotted by the ACC investigation, hold no water.
We beg to differ from this point of view because airline pilots are members of an exclusive club and must pass the most stringent of tests because it’s the passengers’ lives that are at stake here. The fact that financial irregularities, widespread corruption and mismanagement in Biman have already cost the national exchequer Tk 201 crore in 2017-2018 is not lost upon anyone. Repeated scandals involving ticket selling and leasing of aircraft have been unearthed, and now it appears the national carrier has sunk to a new low and is toying with the lives of its passengers. This latest scam is a criminal act and must be treated as such. All those under the ACC radar need to be brought under the legal system and charges need to be pressed against them for criminal complicity, and the examination needs to be retaken, regardless of the cost it entails. Only then can the goodwill of Biman be restored and the safety of passengers ensured.