If you want to travel by train without booking a seat, do not worry; a section of railway employees is there to help you. They have invented a unique way for you; what you will need to do is just renting a drum.
‘Rent-a-drum’ is a service the railway employees are offering illegally to help people travel by inter-city trains without tickets and thus make a quick buck, depriving Bangladesh Railway of huge revenue.Sources said railway canteen employees, attendants and ticket checkers are mainly involved in providing the illegal service.
They said if anybody rents a drum, he or she does not need to spend a penny on ticket, but has to pay an amount, ranging from Tk 200 to Tk 1,000 per drum, to railway employees or attendants.
Empty big plastic paint containers are used as ‘drums’ to carry passengers on train illegally under the nose of ticket checkers.
Sources said not only canteen employees or attendants, ticket checkers, canteen managers and other rail officials are involved in the fraudulent business.
According to the estimate of a source, the government is losing about Tk 80 lakh (8 million) in revenue per month from a single inter-city train because of the ‘rent-a-drum’ service.
Hundreds of people are using the service at prices much lower than the ticket fare.A canteen boy of Brahmaputra inter-city train, Shahalom Mia, told the daily sun that they take Tk 200 from each ‘rent-a-drum’ passenger but the amount increases up to Tk 1,000 during rush period, including the day before weekend and other holidays.
“I have to take responsibilities of at least 10 to 20 persons as I have at least 10 drums to rent to commuters,” he said.
Shahalom ensures safe exit of the ‘rent-a-drum passengers’ by providing them with used tickets at the stations they get down.
During a recent visit, the daily sun correspondent saw 10-15 people sitting on a ‘drum’
in each compartment of the train near the doors, connecting path of two compartments and beside the bathroom.
Even the commuters are sitting on the path between the seats.
A large number of drums are used in the canteen compartment where people go to drink tea and have breakfast with higher cost than other compartments.
Sources said near about 300-400 plastic paint containers, known as drum are in their possession to use during the journey.
Secretary to the Ministry of Railways Md Mofazzel Hossain told daily sun as per the law, traveling without ticket is a punishable act.
“Ticket checkers are responsible for taking action against them and mobile court drives have been conducted frequently to contain such illegal commuting.”
“Action would be taken against those involved in helping illegal traveling by commuters,” he said, adding that “Stern action would be taken against the ticket checkers through investigation over specific allegation.”
Another staff Enamul said they help people commute by trains without tickets in exchange of some money.
“Our charge varies due to pressure of passengers. Though it is infrequent but we have to pay more than the price of ticket when mobile court conducts drive,” he said.
Referring to the exit of passengers through Kamalapur Railway Station, an attendant of Teesta, another intercity train, said usually they buy used tickets, the collected tickets by ticket checkers at the station, at a price of Tk 20 to Tk 30 from Airport station.
Later all those tickets are provided to the commuters so they can depart from Kamalapur.
Akbar Hossain, a passenger of Brahmaputra train, said he comes from Jamalpur but he has no ticket but he uses ‘rent-a-drum’ service always.