1. Every year 24th July, is observed as the International Private Security Officers’ Day in the world. It is a symbolic day. We also celebrate the Day in Bangladesh on 24th July. I have chosen the ‘Day’ to share some of my thoughts on the Private Security Services in the country based on my long experiences with the Private Security Services in Bangladesh for the last 27 + years.
2. Private Security Services/ Companies came into being in Bangladesh in the year between 1988-1990, when first few companies started their operations on a minor scale. Prominent companies that time were Securex, Atondro O Nischit, Shields and some others. One reverend, Gp Capt Taher Quddus Retd founder of Securex was the Pioneer or the Father of Private Security Services in Bangladesh. Few other names must also be taken to recollect their strenuous role as the other ‘Pioneers’ in the Private Security Services Sector in Bangladesh. They were Major Talebul Mowla (Retd), Maj Ahsanullah (Retd), Lt Col Quader, Maj Ashfaque Ahmed (Retd) Maj Mokaddes (Retd), Maj Zulfiqar Choudhury (Retd), Lt Col Abdul Latif Khan (Retd), Maj Syed Mizanur Rahman (Retd),Major Muhammad Akhtaruzzaman (Retd.) ExMP & Ex-DIG of Police Mr. Hashmatullah & few others.
4. That was the time Bangladesh saw a large number of Private Security Companies getting their birth to operate on a bigger scale. The old concept of ‘Darwan’ over night changed - uniformed security men were organised under company banner by mostly high ranking Ex-Armed Forces & Police officers as mentioned above. They took over the business to turn it professionally as an organised Industry.
5. But then the real thrust was felt upon in Bangladesh on 01 July 2016-the ‘Fateful Day’ when 18 foreigners were brutally murdered in Gulshan, the diplomatic zone of Dhaka. The incident is noted in history as infamous ‘Holey Artisan’ attack. It inflicted a death blow on our standing in the world. We immediately lost our image of a moderate nation.
6. The Govt. was totally upset but took the challenge very boldly. A complete overhaul of the Security Apparatus in the country was under taken. A full-fledged Counter Terrorism Unit was established with all the paraphernalia & gadgets in-place. Extensive & vigorous operations were mounted to eliminate terrorism from the country. On a positive note, the efforts saw success and soon Bangladesh regained it’s place as a genuine fighter against terrorism in the world.
7. It may be noted here that in the year 2006, the Govt enacted the Private Security Services Act - 2006 to regulate the activities of the private security companies, which came as a blessing to the Industry. The private security industry became well known & recognised through the ‘ACT’ as an essential service in the country working hand to hand to supplement the efforts of the regular law enforcing agencies in the country.
8. As of today as many as 800 +- security companies are working throughout the country. These companies have created job opportunities for 7 lacs + personnel. Our clients are Embassies, High Commissions, UN bodies, International Organisations, NGOs, all kind of Industries, Garments, Pharmaceuticals, Educational Institutions, Office/Apartment Blocks & many others. One has to find out what the Private Security Companies are doing. Hundreds of crores of takas are transferred/ transited by their cash carrying vehicles every day. All the ATMs operations, near about 10,000 will grind to a halt in the country if security companies seize to operate.
10. Security companies in Bangladesh need very active help & assistance from the Government to grow stronger. We hardly have resources to impart good training to our personnel. As you have seen, 7 Lac+ people employed in the sector are doing a great job of supplementing the efforts of the regular law enforcing agencies. But unfortunately there is hardly any good realisation or recognition of our contributions.
11. Now let us discuss few weaknesses & negatives about Private Security Service in the context of Bangladesh. We would like to say that despite making HUGE contributions to the country, society and the mass people, security services is socially still not much regarded. The main reason is less or no attraction to the service, as it is generally a very lowly paid occupation in Bangladesh. A village girl wouldn’t settle or marry a Security Guard. For she knows that the ‘Guy’ is poor and has no ‘Status’ in the society like other uniformed services.
12. There are big companies, conglomerates, big CSR performers in the country who hesitates to pay even, Tk. 5,000.00 to Tk. 6,000.00 per guard for a 8 hourly monthly employment. This means US$ 60+ for a guard for a whole month. With this vivaciously low yield – how do you expect a minimum good service from this sector. It's actually a very unfortunate situation. Pathetically, the Security Company Associations have not been very effective - not good bargain masters like BGMEA & other Associations in the country to make any headway with the concerned authorities.
13. During the Covid-19 situation, these poor security personnel were seen very dedicated like the other ‘FRONT LINE FIGHTERS’ - but there has been no “Salutes- Claps” or incentive for them. We remain till now “Unsung Heroes” Unlike the Doctors, Law enforcers, Garmenters & Countless of other categories, the Security Guards have remained really neglected. What to talk of incentives we could not even provide adequate numbers of PPEs, Masks, Gloves etc to our guards as these are unaffordable for continuous/ repeated issues. With the lockdown and no public transportations life of these guards have became extremely difficult.
14. With fairly good things mentioned in the beginning and the negative ones at the bottom of the narration - Private Security Services as a business has come to stay. It's a Big business in the advanced world. Revenue - Profits: All inclusive a substantial undertaking. A company named "Black Water’s” revenue ran into Billions mind you not Millions a few years back. The company had to go into hideout, for a while but re-emerged with a new name to only earn more.
Hope things will improve in Bangladesh too sometimes in the future & we will then feel better.
The writer is Managing Director of Elite Force, Elite Security Services Ltd