Hundreds of people have been desperately trying to buy a train ticket standing in long queues for hours when some are comfortably wangling it from black marketeers.
Despite different measures taken by the authorities to stop irregularities, black marketeers are still active at Kamalapur railway station. They are offering home-bound people tickets at a rate a few times higher than the actual price.
Law enforcers yesterday arrested three persons red-handed while selling tickets on the station premises, the second day after Bangladesh Railway started selling advance tickets ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr.
The arrestees are Anwar, 17, Tuhin, 15, and Samirul Islam, 25, said the law enforcers.
Anwar and Tuhin were selling four tickets of Dhaka-Chittagong route at Tk 2,000 against the actual price of Tk 660 at around 12:00noon, said Rab officials.
Another arrestee Samirul was selling photocopy of tickets of Turna Express (Dhaka-Chittagong), said officials of intelligence branch of Railway Nirapatta Bahini.
According to a pre-announced schedule, train tickets for August 14 were sold on Sunday, while tickets for August 15 were sold yesterday, tickets for August 16 would be sold today, tickets for August 17 on August 8 and the tickets for August 18 on August 9.
Allegations are rife that some corrupt railway officials and countermen, who are selling tickets, are giving tickets to the black marketeers.
“A counterman kept me standing 12 minutes in front of his desk as he was talking over phone. He was informing the person on the other side that tickets of AC cabin are available,” said Obaidul Islam, who got tickets of Dhumketu (Dhaka-Rajshahi) after standing in the queue for around 10 hours.
“After hanging up the phone, he prepared four tickets and kept those in his pocket,” Obaidul alleged.
Another passenger Abul Kalam Azad, who was standing at the front of the queue of ticket-seekers for Rajshahi, said, “According to the noticeboard, tickets of 252-seat Dhumketu Express are supposed to be sold from Kamalapur. But, after selling tickets to around 25 to 30 customers, the counterman suddenly announced that the tickets are sold out.”
A couple of minutes after the beginning of sale at 9:00am the counterman said over 150 tickets have been sold or booked, said Mamun-or-Rashid, a ticket-seeker of Nilsagar Express (Dhaka-Nilphamari).
Talking to reporters, Kudrat-E-Khuda, assistant director of Rab-3, said a syndicate of addicts are out to sell tickets in the black market. They are doing this to collect money for taking drugs.
Asked, Md Sardar Shahdat Ali, divisional railway manager (DRM) of Bangladesh Railway, said, “We are keeping sharp vigilance to resist black marketing of tickets. Adequate number of law enforcers have been deployed in the station to resist the offenders.”
Due to unavailability of tickets, he said, the demand has gone much higher than the capacity of the railway.
According to the Kamalapur station noticeboard, as many as 7,733 tickets were sold for August 15 of different intercity routes yesterday.
Meanwhile, advance tickets for most of the reputed bus services for August 14, 15 and 16 are almost sold out.
Samad Mandal, manager of Hanif Paribahan, said, “Tickets to northern and southern regions for the three days were sold out two days ago. Now, we are selling tickets for August 17 and 18.”
Khandaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of Bangladesh Sarak Paribahan Samity, told The Daily Star, “Apart from some reputed companies, tickets of other small bus services are available.”
The state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) will start selling advance tickets from today.
Private launch services will start selling advance cabin tickets on August 10, while the state-run Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation will start the sale from tomorrow.
-With The Daily Star input