Home Bangladesh Tk 650 cr demu train lying unattended
Bangladesh - April 29, 2024

Tk 650 cr demu train lying unattended

Huge irregularities were concerned

Farhad Chowdhury: Demu goods are nowhere to be found locally. China used to run them with a special software. Neither does that software. During the few days that the trains ran, there was a further loss of about Tk 30 crore due to extra expenditure on repairs. All in all, the government’s Tk 650 crore have been wasted behind the Demo train.
In 2013, several related officials, including the PD of the project, have retired. During the development of the project, the Director General of Railways and the subsequent Director General were also retired. The then Communications Minister and Planning Minister passed away. Although some officials are still in service, none of them are taking responsibility. Besides, those who are currently in charge say that they were not present during the work related to the purchase of the project. Over enthusiasm at the time of purchase and later avoidance of any liability has ruined the dream of the demo project. Now it is said that plans to sell the trains by auction are underway.
In this context, the Minister of Railways Zillul Hakim said, there were many dreams about the Demu train. But the trains were not bought while I was in charge. The minister under whose charge the trains were purchased is no more. Besides, I don’t know who was there from the beginning to the end of buying the demo. I am also not aware of officers who went abroad for shopping and demu training. But there needs to be accountability.
In response to a question about what will happen to the useless demos, the minister said, “I don’t know much about demos.” But I will look into it.
A visit to the Dhaka Railway Loco shed can be seen, there are rows of demos on the south side of the shed. The place full of plants and foliage is a haunted environment. Hundreds of crores of taka of demos have sprouted trees. The door was open, excrement was seen inside. The seat and the front (engine) part of the demu are damaged. Spiders and rust rotted every demo. Two engines in each demu set.
Malt displays were found to be broken and torn on several engines. Like each demur skeleton. An official in charge of the shed commented that the skeletons of Demu were lying. Investigating will reveal which parts are blown from the demo. It will also be possible to identify who is responsible for this.
There are about 7 demus inside the shed. A few parts of the demo covered with foliage and trees were only visible. Over a large area on the southern side, the fallen dams are covered with a layer of moss.
Another official in charge of the shed said the demos have been lying for years. Remaining 12 Demus are lying in Chittagong and Lalmonirhat sheds. Only one Demu is running on Chittagong Dohazari route. It also goes on for a day and then stops for 4 days.
Railway Secretary Dr. Humayun Kabir said, now Demu is not going like that. It was supposed to be passenger friendly. But it did not happen due to various problems. The current position of Demu will be discussed with the concerned. After discussion it will be decided what can be done about it. Besides, I don’t know the whereabouts of those who were involved in the purchase of the demo and the implementation of the project. Those who went abroad in this project will definitely be held accountable. There needs to be accountability.
He also said that there is a lot of development in the railways. It must be ensured that the benefits of development reach the common man. If trains like the demo were in operation, short distance railway stations would provide adequate trips. Meanwhile, the report of an inquiry committee regarding the useless demo train has come to Daily Industry. The report of the 6-member investigation committee formed on the orders of the Ministry of Railways was submitted on May 11 last year.
The investigation report recommended that the Demu was not repairable at all. Modules, sensors and accessories used in it will not be repaired unless collected. Only those machines should be procured from the Chinese contractor company, because only they can provide those machines. CRRC of China can be called in this regard.
The recommendation also states that the full technical capacity of the Railways for demo repair is not up to par. For this, a consultant with technical knowledge about demos is essential. A member of the committee said that the entire period from the purchase of the demo to the start of movement in the country has gone through irregularities and corruption. All the money is gone.
It is known that a local demu has been repaired and run for a few days. Former railway engineer. Asaduzzaman repaired a demo in 2022. A demu repaired at a cost of about Tk 30 lakh was also run for a few days in Lalmonirhat section. Later it finally became inactive. At that time, it was said that it is possible to repair other trains using indigenous technology. But when the train sat a few days after the renovation, no more money was spent on the rest.
Sajid Hasan Nirjhar, Divisional Mechanical Engineer of Eastern Railway said, almost all the demo trains are useless. A demu runs from Chittagong to Dohazari – even if it runs for a day, 2 days are wasted. It will also eventually become unusable. Day by day they are destroyed. No repair is possible now. Moreover, Demu goods are not available anywhere locally. China used to run them with a special software. That software does not exist. Those from China left after a few years. Now the demos can be auctioned after getting instructions from higher officials.
It is learned that in 2010, the revenue sector proposed to implement the project in Demu and sent it to the Planning Commission for approval. The Planning Commission rejected the project. In the proposed demu train, none of the rooms had AC, no windows, no toilets. It also had no ventilation system. Originally, the train was made for cold countries.
Stakeholders oppose the project as the train is not suitable for Bangladesh. But later in June 2010, the then Communications Minister contacted the then Planning Minister and approved the project through a written letter.
Among the three companies that participated in the tender for the demu project were two from China and one from Indonesia. Out of these, two organizations were declared ineligible for tender evaluation. The job is awarded to the second lowest bidder. An official said, as per the rules, the tender should be called again as the two institutions are ineligible. But the job was hastily awarded to the second lowest bidder.
Former Director General of Railways Abu Taher said, Demu came to the country when I was there. The demu was accepted by the officials of the mechanical department. The whole matter of purchasing the demo was already done. When the demu was run there was dissatisfaction among the passengers. Because the demu was non-AC. But the entire demu was run behind closed doors. There were no windows. There was no toilet. There was no fan inside. Passengers used to get sick due to extreme heat. Moreover, even after purchasing the demo, there was no workshop-skilled manpower to maintain it.
It is known from the railway mechanical office that the director (PD) of the demu procurement project was Saidur Rahman, the then chief mechanical engineer of the railway. Demu joins the train by holding his hand. At that time, when writing about demu, the then Director General of Railways Md. Shamsuzzaman formed an investigation committee. The committee’s investigation report blamed project director Saidur Rahman and 8 officials who visited China under the demu project. As per the recommendation of the committee, Saidur Rahman was made Officer on Special Duty (OSD) but no action was taken regarding the rest.
According to sources, 8 officials were sent to China at a cost of around Tk 50 lakh to buy demu. Their duty was to see the functioning of the demu and other matters. Among them, there were 6 officials from the Ministry of Railways and the Railways Department and one each from the Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Department (IMED) and the Planning Commission of the Ministry of Planning. A railway official said, they stayed in China for about one and a half months. On his way back, he came with a bag full of shopping.
Shahinul Haque, Lalmonirhat DME of Western Railway, said that 2 sets of demos were running on the meter gauge line of that route. From the beginning the demu ran through various problems. As the days passed, the problem became more pronounced. We tried to repair it, but could not. Our seniors spent a few days repairing a demu. But not for long. Within a few days it became inactive. Now if you get the instructions, there is no way but to sell them at auction.
Sources in the Railway Operations and Infrastructure Department say that the Operations and Infrastructure Department has been bypassed in accepting and implementing this project. From the planning of purchase of the demu to its arrival in the country, the concerned did not pay attention to its maintenance and workshop. Although the contractor company did not deliver the goods as per the contract, the concerned officials avoided it. Damaged demus could not be repaired due to lack of workshop. The damaged demos were taken to the general train workshop for repair but could not be properly worked on. Moreover, workers-officials did not show any enthusiasm to repair demos in ordinary workshops.
Transportation expert and professor of civil engineering department of Bangladesh University of Engineering M. Samshul Haque said, starting from the demu purchase plan, the officials going abroad and the officials involved in the implementation cannot avoid the responsibility. Government money means common people’s money. Tk 650 crores did not work at all. For this, starting from the Planning Commission to the Ministry of Railways and related departments, the accountability of those involved in this project should be ensured. Those responsible need to be punished. Then everyone will be careful in taking up such projects in the future by learning from this. Engine-coaches have been running in the country for ages, and demus were destroyed in just a few years. If the main condition of purchase is to understand the good product, then what did the concerned do. Planning Commission or Railway Ministry should form an inquiry committee against the responsible and ensure punishment.

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