Golam Mostafa Jibon: Allegation has been intensified that, an officer of the Shipping Department under the Ministry of Shipping has been serving in three posts for a long time violating the rules and regulations.
All the three posts belong to the revenue sector and are of Joint Secretary’s status. However, the incumbent officer is not a permanent officer of the department.
According to the ‘Charter of Duties’, the organization regulates inland, coastal and ocean-going navigation systems.
Sources said, Manjurul Kabir, Acting Chief Engineer and Ship Surveyor (CESS) of the Department has been performing the duties of Chief Marine Examiner (CME) and Chief Nautical Surveyor (CNS) for a long time in addition to his duties.
On April 12 in 2018, after the then Chief Engineer (current duty) SS Nazmul Haque was arrested and suspended by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Ministry of Shipping appointed Manjurul Kabir, a trainer of Chattogram Marine Academy, to this post.
Earlier on July 18, 2017, the then chief engineer AKM Fakhrul Islam was also arrested by the ACC on charge of taking bribe of Tk 5 lakh. ACC also nabbed him red-handed along with the mentioned amount of money from his possession. After his suspension, Nazmul Haque was replaced on the post.
However, Manjurul Kabir had no previous experience as ship surveyor. Nevertheless, he was given this responsibility during the crisis. Since then, he has been serving for around four years. Apart from this, two more responsibilities were assigned on this temporarily appointed officer. There has been mild anger among the officials of the department over the issue.
According to the sources of the Shipping Ministry, Captain Ghiyasuddin Ahmed, who is currently in charge of the CME of the Shipping Department, was appointed to fill the vacant position of the chief officer of the Mercantile Marine Officein Chattogram, a subsidiary body of the Department on October 16 in 2019. Although, the post of CME was vacant, the Ministry of Shippingaffairs did not appoint anyone or assign for current duties. However, CNS Captain KM Jasim Uddin Sarkar had been served in this position for a long time on the instructions of the then Director General of the Department.
According to sources, Jasim Uddin also served as the director of the ongoing Global Marine Distressed Safety and System (GMDSS) project jointly funded by Bangladesh and South Korea, apart from CME and CNS. Thus, he went on post-retirement leave (PRL) on January 31 last, while serving three posts simultaneously. However, a new Director General joined the Department about a year before he retired. He (Director General) subsequently assigned the additional charge of CME and CNS to Chief Engineer Manjurul Kabir. Since then, he has been single-handedly performing three duties.
According to the relevant recruitment and employment rules, the Ministry of Shippingaffairs can appoint in such vacancies from among the officers of the Department on the basis of merit on current duty or on attachment or deputation from any other organization under the Ministry.
Apart from this, the Ministry of Public Administration can also appoint appropriate officers of any other organization on deputation. However, the ShippingDepartment does not have the authority to provide these positions with the opportunity to carry out long-term duties except for daily or emergency additional duties.
According to experts, the Chief Marine Examiner (CME) position is very important for naval safety. Apart from mastership and drivership tests for all types of inland vessels, all types of seafarers’ qualification tests for seafarers and coastal ships are conducted under it. It is not at all possible to carry out the critical responsibilities of CME properly outside of the important responsibilities of Chief Engineer. This may result in errors in the ability of the ship’s seamen; which is prone to marine accidents.
According to sources, the post of Chief Nautical Surveyor or CNS is also important. The CNS is responsible for implementing various regulations and policies of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and communicating them to stakeholders. He coordinated safety matters with domestic public and private naval agencies and observed the IMO delegation when it came to Bangladesh for inspection. In these works, he has to go to meetings and seminars in different countries of the world several times a year, including the IMO headquarters in London; which is not possible from the responsibility of Chief Engineer. Basically, a Master Mariner is suitable for the CNS position on merit. But Manjurul Kabir is not a master mariner; he is a ShippingEngineer. Meanwhile, Manjurul Kabir has no experience in ship surveying (fitness test) and providing registration even though the actual name of the post of Chief Engineer is ‘Chief Engineer and Ship Surveyor (CESS)’. That is why, he does not have the opportunity to see any mistakes or irregularities made by ship surveyors under his jurisdiction in the fitness test and providing registration of ships. Despite this, many questions have been raised in the concerned circles about keeping him in this position for a long period of over four years. In this situation, the question has become stronger by giving him two additional responsibilities.
Apart from this, the Ministry of Shippingaffairs has not assigned or appointed anyone to the post of CME in almost three years. Acting Chief Engineer has long been performing additional duties of CME and CNS by order of Director General’s office; officials of the ShippingDepartment have commented that this is out of the ordinary. However, none of them agreed to open their mouths about the matter in fear of harassment.
Meanwhile, a new Director General has been appointed and he has just joined the Department of Shipping. So, it was not possible to contact with him for his comment in this regard.
Aminur Rasul Babul, the Member Secretary of the civic organization ‘Nirapad Nou-phath Bastabayan Andolan’, which has been working on the shipping system for a long time, said that, “In view of their long-standing demands, the government has revised the manpower structure of the Department of Shipping and increased the number of officers and employees. In this situation, it is not at all reasonable to impose the responsibility of two more posts of joint secretary status on a very important officer like the Chief Engineer. Besides, he is not an own official of the department.”
Aminur Rasul Babul urged the government to remove the additional responsibility from him and appoint a separate officer for each position and immediately appoint a new Chief Engineer.
While contacted, Chief Engineer Manjurul Kabir declined to make any comment in this regard.
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