Dhaka Mass Transit Company (DMTC) is yet to start implementing its manpower recruitment plan, apparently raising concerns over smooth operation of the metro rail in the capital, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2019.
The state-run company could not also be made fully functional even two years after its formation, seriously affecting the implementation works of the country's first metro rail project, sources said.
They said the DMTC has not recruited any single person so far out of a plan for appointing over 1,900 people. The plan was submitted to the Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development (DMRTD) project office two years ago.
According to the project insiders and experts, the setback has already delayed the process of preparing the manpower - the staff require at least two years of training to make them ready for running and maintaining the sophisticated and complicated transport system like metro rail.
Since becoming active in 2015 with the constitution of the DMTC board of directors, only the board meeting was being held regularly. The board members comprising representatives of all relevant ministries, private sector and BUET sit almost every month.
The DMTC, constituted by a government order on 21 Jan 2013 with a capital of Tk 100 billion, was working as the project implementation unit of the Dhaka Metro Rail projects.
All the existing staffs, including the project director who was carrying out additional charge as managing director of the DMTC, have since been working on deputation from Roads and Highways Department and Bangladesh Railway.
"The DMTC should start working right now. It has already been late," said an expert involved with the project.
The DMRTD project, now under implementation stage, is set to develop 20-kilometre elevated metro rail known as Mass Rapid Transit Line-6 (MRT-6) from Uttara to Motijheel.
According to the DMRTD project, a recruitment plan for the DMTC was submitted to the project office in 2015 to equip the company with 110 staff in 2015-16, followed by 115, 112, 235 and 1,271 in the following four years. The plan remained completely unimplemented.
It is learnt that the general consultants to the DMRTD project has already prepared the training plan for the DMTC staff.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the main financier of the US$ 3.0 billion project, and the general consultants repeatedly requested the government to complete the recruitment process, sources said.
"The MRT system needs to be maintained with full proof safety and efficiency. Otherwise, it will collapse," said a consultant.
He said that the incidents of derailment or any unwanted situation in the case of railway system could be managed with less disaster or by quickly making the train service operational.
But, he warned, it would be totally damaging in the case of MRT as it would stop the entire service and the disaster would be unlimited.
Secretary of Road Transport and Highways Division MAN Siddique, however, said the recruitment process will start by the end of this year as the DMTC would not need the manpower at this stage of project implementation. It would help save the government money.
"Why should we start direct recruitment for the company and give them salary when the project implementation is yet to be completed? Let the project be completed," he told the FE over phone Sunday.
The secretary, who is also the chairman of the DMTC board, said they have enough time to train up the manpower as the MRT will be commissioned in 2019.
However, experts said the process of transfer of technology and experience should start by now due to the new nature of project in the country.
"We are missing the golden opportunities as the DMTC's technical and non-technical hands should gather experience from now and learn the lessons of quality control of the highly technical infrastructure," said an expert, who is involved with the project.
He also said that being the first project, the government has to accept overlapping of time for developing the company's own efficient manpower through training.