Momen blasts aviation officials at Dhaka airport over baggage delays

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen today blasted the aviation officials at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport after finding out the sufferings of the returning passengers who waited for hours for their luggage.

He said he often receives complaints from the Bangladeshi expatriates about harassment at the airport and he himself found the complaints true after arriving at the airport from Portugal.

Momen went to attend the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda on June 22. From there, he visited the UK and then attended an ocean conference in Portugal.

"I arrived at the airport at about 10:30am and saw long lines of passengers waiting for their luggage. I discovered that a flight from Dubai landed at 8:45am but their luggage was not put on the belt even at 10:45am," Foreign Minister Momen said while talking to journalists at the foreign ministry.

Many of the passengers did not even get trolleys for carrying the luggage from the belt area to the exit gate, he said.

Momen said he then called the manager concerned and asked why there was such a delay in getting the luggage on the belt and why the passengers were not getting trolleys.

"The manager said many flights landed at the same time and then there was also a shifting [of staff] in the morning and the next shift staff were yet to come," Momen said.

He said he was angry at that point and shouted at the manager, saying: "Terminate them if they don't come in time, recruit new people."

The minister also said that he has been travelling on a regular basis for the last six years through the airport and he did not face any such problem.

"Another complaint is that the aviation authorities gave the wrong number of the belts [and the flights on the display screen]. Such management cannot be accepted," the foreign minister said.

He then called the Civil Aviation and Tourism State Minister Mahbub Ali and informed him of the sufferings caused to the passengers. Mahbub Ali said he also expressed his dissatisfaction about the quality of the services at the airport but there was no progress.

The latter assured of steps to stop any sort of harassment to the passengers.

He said the good news is that the aviation authorities have stopped screening of luggage even after crossing the immigration.

"All passengers are not thieves. When I asked the customs officials in charge, they said that many passengers bring gold and cell phones. I said you can do it only if you find someone suspicious, not all of them."

The customs officials then said many bring cell phones from Dubai. He then told those officials to have the luggage of those coming from Dubai screened, not the others.

"Good news is that screening practice is stopped. I was very happy. This will prevent harassment," he added.

During his meetings with the ministers of Portugal and Malta in Portugal, he requested them to send a consular team to Dhaka to issue visas of several thousand Bangladeshis seeking to visit those countries. Currently, they go to Delhi for visas of those countries and face troubles. The Portuguese and Malta ministers assured that they would do it, the minister added.


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