Oil stealing syndicate getting reckless
Golam Mostafa Jibon: As the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken a stern stance against corruption and irregularities, a fuel stealing syndicate of Bangladesh Railway has become more active which stealing fuel oil of over Tk 100 crore a year.
According to the sources, a huge quantity of railway fuel oil is being smuggled and sold in the open market under the nose of authorities concerned. Thesyndicate members have spread all over the country. A number of railway employees and top officials have also involved with the syndicate. This is why, there is no headache of the authorities concerned over the issue.
Sources said, freight trains remain stranded at various stations in the country for a long time during its trip. The thieves take away the fuel oil that time and even the time, while train engine takes oil from the depot.
The use of fuel has increased by about 36 percent to 38 percent in the last few years. But, the reality is that the use of oil is much higher than the demand for the engine, which means that when the authorities allocate oil, they show the amount in excess, and this excess oil is sold in a smuggling ring.
According to railway sources, at least 350 trains run daily in the country on the Eastern and Western Railways, which needs around 1.75 lakh litters of oil. But, the annual cost behind the fuel oil is shown at around 6.39 lakh litters.
Around 40,000 liters of oil is stolen from various passenger and freight trains every day and an average about 1.5 crore liters are being stolen a year, which market value is Tk 94.90 crore.
Seeking anonymity, some railway officials said that, oil is being stolen from 190 trains in the east and west zone. More than 167 syndicate members are active in oil theft at 53 identified places. The highest numbers of oil thefts are in Chattogram, Pakshi and Mymensingh railway divisions.
According to various branches of the railways, oil is being stolen from moving trains and even after stopping. About 19,000 liters of oil is being stolen daily from train engines and power cars. Some 15,000 liters of oil is stolen daily from loco sheds and 5,000 liters a day from moving trains. In addition, engine oil of Tk 1 crore is stolen every year.
Railway sources said, after taking the loco from the shed, the train driver explained the account to the concerned branch till the train runs at a certain distance. But there is a discrepancy as to this. Station Master, on duty Locomaster, Assistant Locomaster, Fuel Checker, Railway Security Force and Train Guard are involved with the thieve syndicate. (See Page-2)
Although, the railway authorities have now introduced a locomotive calibration system, it is limited to a few trains, so the oil theft festival is going on all the time. Bangladesh Railway is conducting operations by dividing the railway into eastern and western regions. Railway fuel is stolen at 18 to 20 points in the eastern part of the country.
Mirsarai Mastannagar in Chattogram, CGPI, CGD, Numering, Chinki Astana, Sharshadi, Gunobati, Narsingdi, Raipur, Shayestaganj in Habiganj, Satiajuri Railway Station, Sutang Railway Station, Kodda in Brahmanbaria, Dubla Outer Signal and Akhaura Station among others are the largest oil theft point in the east.
Mymensingh Railway is one of the fuel thefts spots. Mymensingh Kewatkhali, Gauripur, Kishoreganj,Mohanganj, Bhairab, Jamalpur, Dewanganj, Islampur and Sarishabari are significant.
Mastannagar is one of the hotspots for fuel theft in Chattogram. Sources said, an average of 300 to 500 liters of oil is stolen from the train at this spot every day. This cycle is run with the help of Locomaster, Assistant Locomaster, Fuel Checker, Train Controller and Station Master. There are allegations that this syndicate of oil theft in Mastannagar is under the control of some influential leaders of Bangladesh Railway Running Staff and Sramik Karmachari Samiti.
Meanwhile, an average of 700 liters of oil is stolen every day at the city’s CGPIA yard. The thief’s cycle is basically showing more time than the scheduled time to change the train track.
A committee was set up in 2011 to look into the theft of oil from the railways. A total of 18 recommendations were made in the report, including color separation of diesel used in railways, proper quantification of oil reserves and modernization of oil management, ensuring sealing of oil tanks in engines.
Several officials in charge of Bangladesh Railway said, the fuel cost of the railway is not coming under control. The authorities are spending more every year than the money allocated to this sector. As a result, the oil suppliers are in arrears with the railways. Last year, the oil suppliers owed Tk 275 crore to the railways. The suppliers also threatened to cut off oil supply to Padma, Jamuna and Meghna, if the arrears were not paid.
According to the sources, 334 trains were running across the country in 2013. In 2019, the number of train movements stood at 354. In other words, the number of trains has increased by 20 in five years.
On the other hand, in the 2013-14 financial year, the allocation for railways in the energy sector was Tk 249 crore. In 2018-19 financial year,Tk 423 crore was allocated. In other words, the number of trains has increased by 20 in five years, but the allocation in the energy sector has increased by Tk 174 crore.
Bangladesh Railway loses an average of Tk 1,300 crore every year. If the oil theft of Tk 100 crore from the railway is prevented every year, it is possible to reduce the railway losses by 13 percent.
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