Corruption, cheating and hijacking unabated at Zia

February 1, 2009

Staff Correspondent
Corruption by customs and civil aviations officials goes unabated while touts and criminals are continuously cheating the passengers and hijacking their goods at the Zia International Airport.
To curb corruption at country’s various airports, earlier the ACC wanted to set up its branch offices at Zia International Airport, Shah Amanat Airport in Chittagong and Osmani Airport at Sylhet but those branch offices have not been set up yet.
In the midst of anti-corruption drive during the caretaker government, corruption at Zia went behind the curtain avoiding public notice and same system remains in tact after assuming power by Awami League led government.
Wishing anonymity an official of the Civil Aviation said “There are around 2000 employees of the Civil Aviation most of whom are working under master roll. They get daily Tk 210 salary and their being deprived of proper salary and recognition has inculcated the idea of corruption in them.”
He said the lower officials of the Civil Aviation are very much suppressed while the high-ups are engaged in misappropriating crores of money in the name of constructing and renovating runways and other establishments. “You see the colour of this floor is off-white and I am sure that after few months you will see it pink. If a runway repair costs Tk 2 lac, a ghost bill of Tk 10 lac will be made for it.”
A Custom Inspector said irregularities and embezzlement of money are rampantly committed by the custom high-ups who are doing jobs permanently in Zia and other airports. Although subordinate officers indulge in corruption, their scope is restricted and they are not permanent in the airports.
“Subordinate officers are appointed for at best 6 months but many of them are removed after 15 or 30 days. As customs high-ups are comparatively permanent at the airports specially Zia, they have created a den of corruption therein,” he added.
A reliable source at Zia said “Earlier an incident of smuggling heroine to UK by BD Food Co. was unearthed by UK customs. Similarly many objectionable items are still being imported in connivance with customs.”
He clarified that all goods and parcels being imported and exported through cargo aircrafts or carried with passengers are duly examined but whenever objectionable things are detected, the offenders settle the matter bribing custom officials.
Apart from this, criminals have been hijacking and cheating incoming passengers at the airport premises but these crimes are frequently seen outside the main gate of the Zia International Airport.
Two minor boys who collect abandoned mineral water bottles at Zia, said very often the passengers fall victim to hijackers and cheaters outside the main gate where drugs are also being sold.
“When an incoming passenger has rented a CNG or taxicab and the driver is busy pulling goods and luggage, a section of cheaters come and threaten incoming passenger to give them foreign currency otherwise they will drive away the vehicle along with his loaded goods,” they added.
Soon after coming out of immigration, the incoming passengers are harassed by taxicab and microbus drivers who insist on hiring their vehicles at high rates.
In such a situation of scuffle with an incoming passenger, microbus driver Akter Hossain said “There are 300 vehicles to be rented out at Zia but there is no regulation. Each driver tries to realize high fare from the homebound passengers. As an elected government has assumed office, transport section will be leased and there will be a regulating body stipulating fixed fare for every distance.”


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