An ordeal for aspirant migrants
The struggles faced by the Moulvibazar District Manpower and Employment Office stand as a reminder of the manifold challenges that aspiring migrant workers have to grapple with, but also of the haphazard manner in which many government institutions are run. According to a report by this daily, this office, in operation since 1997, serves as a conduit for people from Moulvibazar and Habiganj districts pursuing overseas employment opportunities. Its mandate extends beyond registration and fingerprinting – it also encompasses investigating complaints by wronged migrant workers and guiding aspirants on pre- and post-departure procedures. However, its capacity is being severely strained by its meagre workforce.
Reportedly, the office has five official posts (against a requirement of at least eight) – with only three currently occupied. Just imagine: only three. This is nowhere near enough for a region with a rich history of exporting labour. And even though two computer operators have been hired through outsourcing to manage the day-to-day tasks of data registration and fingerprinting, they are unable to cater to the daily influx of around 150 to 200 people seeking services. The situation is further compounded by recurring issues with faulty servers. Reportedly, the provision of services is brought to a halt whenever the system falters – which, we are told, it often does. Over the past two weeks alone, there have many instances of hopeful registrants being turned away due to server problems. These problems have persisted even after the higher authorities were informed of them several times.
True, many government offices are similarly plagued by staffing limitations and server malfunctions – a modern-day addition to the suffering of people trying to navigate the bureaucratic labyrinths. But their convergence in Moulvibazar embodies the wider struggle faced by aspiring migrant workers in Bangladesh. The story of these people is fraught with uncertainties, delays, and setbacks. We have repeatedly seen how they have had to endure challenges in various stages of their preparation thanks to corruption, irregularities and mismanagement at both the recruiting agencies and public offices overseeing migration. A continuation of this situation flies in the face of the high regard that the authorities publicly show for our remittance earners.
We, therefore, urge the government to address the operational challenges of the Moulvibazar manpower office and ensure it is adequately staffed and equipped. All other similar offices also need to be reviewed so that they can function better. Migrants – as citizens of this country but also because of their storied role in its development – deserve better care and support in every stage of their journey.