Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quader to run rail too

Pledges honesty in interim job.

There will be fresh examinations if irregularities are found in recent recruitment of employees in the railway, said Communications Minister Obaidul Quader who took over the railways portfolio yesterday.

"I myself don't tolerate irregularities and won't allow it in recruitment. I can't endorse an illegal recruitment process. If necessary, we will take fresh exams for recruitment," Quader told reporters at Rail Bhaban in his immediate reaction after taking the additional charge.

He said he would consult with the prime minister and "maintain zero tolerance to irregularities and corruption in running the affairs of the ministry".

The prime minister gave him the additional charge according to the authority vested in her under article 3 (IV) of the Rules of Business 1996.

The move came two days after former railways minister Suranjit Sengupta resigned amid criticism over cash haul scandal from the car of his sacked assistant private secretary on April 9.

Quader, who is already under pressure to show his performance in the communications ministry, said he would try to discharge his additional responsibility "sincerely, seriously and in a transparent manner".

He admitted that despite taking some steps at the communications ministry he has yet to show some visible success. "I am a minister for about four months. I hope to show something visible after one year," he argued.
He said he would face pressure in discharging his new responsibilities.

Insiders say the cash haul scandal and removal of Suranjit from the newly created ministry would heavily disrupt the government's move to upgrade the long-ignored rail sector. They add Obaidul Quader would face huge challenge to continue with the effort.

Some 40 projects are under way involving around Tk 14,000 crore to purchase locomotives, coaches, wagons and build new tracks. All in the railway were happy after Suranjit took over as he had made serious efforts to rescue the sector.

Quader said one of his first tasks would be getting rid of the ministry's bad reputation. "I will extend full cooperation to the probe committees for a fair and neutral investigation into the cash haul and the alleged corruption in recruitment." 

Earlier, Rail Secretary Fazle Elahi, Rail Director General Md Abu Taher and other high officials received Quader with flowers upon his arrival at the ministry around 1:45pm.

"I don't want any percentage or commission," Quader told the rail officials while holding a brief meeting with them. He sought support from all so that he can perform his duty properly. 

Referring to Suranjit's effort to timely operation and infusing new life to the rail sector, he said, "My predecessor deserves appreciation for what he did in a short period of time."

Meanwhile, the railways DG-led probe body yesterday sent letters to Suranjit's sacked APS Omar Faruk Talukder and his driver Azam asking them to appear before it next Sunday.

Suspended railway general manager (east) Yusuf Ali Mirdha and Dhaka Division security chief Enamul Huq have already submitted their statements.

Suranjit's Personal Secretary Akhteruzzaman, who was investigating the APS' involvement in the cash haul, declined to continue after Suranjit stepped down. He handed over the APS' statement to Rail Secretary Fazle Elahi on Tuesday.