Titas must be cleansed of corrupt elements
A report published by The Daily Star on June 17 has once again brought to light the allegations of illegal gas connections being provided in exchange for extra charges to customers by syndicates linked with former and current employees of the state-owned Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited. According to the report, the syndicates with the help of some Titas officials have taken part in defrauding a total of 500 customers.
According to the report, customers who did not have any gas connections could get old gas lines fixed or new lines installed allegedly with the help of the syndicate members. These individuals had also stolen documents of 500 customers from the Titas office, and started to charge extra fees from these people claiming themselves as Titas officials. Syndicate members have been illegally working with those Titas employees for the last seven years, and they even have machines to provide new gas connections, according to the Special Superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). CID has also found identity cards of some Titas employees from these syndicate members.
Allegations of graft at Titas are nothing new. Titas is the largest gas provider in the country with 60 percent share of all gas connections. In a report published by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on April 17, 2019, the government body had found 22 sources of corruption inside Titas, among which providing illegal gas connections was on the top of the list.
Although three members of one of these syndicates have been arrested, this will not necessarily bring about any change in such illegal practices. Major reforms have to be undertaken to root out all the bad elements within the organisation. All the syndicate members have to be arrested and given exemplary punishment. The list of those inside Titas who helped these individuals to steal government data is already in the hands of the CID. Thus taking legal action against them should not be difficult. In the meantime, the organisational structure of Titas has to be changed too. The ACC, moreover, should be given the power to take immediate action against any official found guilty in its investigation. As long as there are insiders working for these syndicates, customers will continue to be victims of extortion and the government will continue to lose revenues stolen through illegal connections.