EID-TIME travel has remained cumbersome, hectic and risky affair for years. Sales of tickets, especially of the railway, has become a nightmare for passengers because of mismanagement. To streamline the sales, authorities this year launched a mobile app, Rail Sheba, for the online purchase of tickets and set up booths at Tejgaon, Airport Road and Banani in addition to the Kamalapur station. The railway was scheduled to sell 25,571 advance tickets of 33 intercity trains on Wednesday from capital while half of the tickets were scheduled to be sold at counters, through the app, the railway’s web site E Sheba and mobile texting services. However, people the first day of ticket sales faced severe mismanagement and they came up with the allegations manipulation. A photograph that New Age published on Thursday showed how hundreds of people were standing in long queues to buy advance ticket at Kamalapur. The people who who tried to buy tickets online were, meanwhile, dissatisfied as the system failed to confirm the purchase. The mismanagement in the advance online train ticket sales is shocking given that the government emphasises improvement in public services through digitisation.
As people were struggling with the mobile app, hundreds made calls to the Anti-Corruption Commission to report irregularities in online sales. People complained about long and unnecessarily complicated registration process and finding, on registration, most of the tickets for economy class having been sold. In many cases, people did not receive confirmation texts. They alleged that these unavailable tickets are sold outside the regular channel. Computer Network System Limited that railway authorities appointed tried to explain saying that a large number of people accessing the site at a time created the problem. The railways minister, however, acknowledged the failure and promised action against the company if they failed to provide the expected service. The response appears inadequate as Eid rush is not a new phenomenon and the number of people at the counter will rise in future. Authorities should have conducted a trial of the online system and fixed the problems before using it for Eid ticket sales. The experience of train passengers is the reflection of the failure and misgovernance that generally persist in the sector.
It is unbecoming that the government that has promised a ‘digital Bangladesh’ has failed at digitising public services. The government earlier has taken an initiative to introduce prepaid electricity meters but the system did not meet the expectations as there are not adequate number of recharging facilities and the ones that exist are often dysfunctional. The government, under the circumstances, must ensure that the reported ‘technical glitch’ is fixed and take immediate action to eliminate the ticket sales manipulation and make Eid-time travel free of hassles.
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