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Corruption hits shipping dept

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Publication Date: 26 August, 2015 00:00 00 AM
Media: The Independent
Allegation of rampant corruption is the latest controversy to hit the Department of Shipping (DoS). It has come to light that some agents in collusion with certain unscrupulous officials are issuing fake certificates in exchange for money. Important documents such as Competency Certificate (COC), Certificate of Recognition (COR), Continuous Discharge Certificate (CDC) and Seaman Identity Document (SID) are all available for a price. Even the Director General, DoS, Commodore M Zakiur Rahman Bhuiyan, is aware of the racket.
“In some CDCs my signature was found, which was fake. We have now toughened our stand against fake documents. We are yet to receive any specific complaints against our department officials that they are involved in issuing fake documents, but a group in our department is certainly involved in this,” he told The Independent.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) issued a warning to Bangladesh authorities after receiving reports of fake certificates being issued by the DoS.  The IMO in its letter dated December 4, 2014 noted 12 instances of fake certificates. The DoS allegedly issued 35 fake COR signed by SM Nazmul Haque, Chief Examiner (Deck/Engr). The Independent is in possession of photocopies of three such fake certificates.
On June 28, 2013, the IMO had sent a letter signed by M Fuazudden to DoS in which it mentioned that its evaluation panel found serious lapses regarding the certification process. The panel expressed serious concern in areas relating to education, training, assessment and certification systems.
“On August 11 a meeting was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with top officials of the Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of Foreign employment in which it was decided that a total of 2,476 SIDs out of 4,300 issued between 2004- 2015 by the DoS would be cancelled as they were issued to unskilled and unqualified people without following proper procedures,” said Capt. KM Jashim Uddin Sarkar, Chief Nautical Surveyor, DoS. Bhuiyan also confirmed it to The Independent.
Many organisations have lodged complaints with the DoS that most of the SIDs holders are illiterate and had faked their experience in shipping. It’s alleged that some DoS officials in collusion with agents are taking Tk. 3-5 lakh to issue fake SIDs. Most of the fake SIDs holders have lost their jobs after their employers found out that their certificates were forged, said DoS sources.
On June 11, DG, DoS formed a probe committee to find out those involved in issuing fake CDCs and directed it to submit its report within 15 days. The three-member committee was headed by Captain Faisal Azim, Principal, National Maritime Institute. The other two members were Faozia Rahman, Assistant Chemist, DoS and Jashim Uddin Patowary, Assistant Director, Directorate of Seaman and Immigration Welfare.
A member of the probe committee told The Independent on condition of anonymity that they found two officials DoS and one person in the Directorate of Seaman and Immigration Welfare to be involved in issuing fake CDCs. They allegedly issued fake CDCs in exchange for huge sums of money and innocent people were being lured with the promise of going on ships.
Syed Mohammad Arif Hossain, President, Bangladesh Seafarer’s Welfare Union told The Independent, “Some unscrupulous officials in the DG’s office are involved with forging documents. However, in most cases the reports are submitted perfunctorily. The officials who investigate the corruption charges are themselves involved in it. They always want to save the corrupt officials involved with forging documents such as CORs, CDCs and SIDs.”
Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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