The long-drawn manpower crisis in Bangladesh Railway, the largest public transport sector, is not only hampering its services but also the government plan to split it into four zones as part of the move to include the country under a single railway network.
Bangladesh Railway is facing many difficulties in providing expected services to its passengers with its existing manpower of 40,275 people.
As a result, a number of railway stations across the country are being shut down, said Bangladesh Railway officials.
They said even the government plans to split Bangladesh Railway into four zones saw little progress for this reason.
According to Bangladesh Railway, there are 2,877 kilometers of railway network across the country and it will be expanded to 4,700 kilometers under a master plan of the government.
"But, it's impossible for the Bangladesh Railway to deal with the increased routes with its existing manpower," said an official seeking anonymity.
In October 2014, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked the railways ministry to reform the railway.
Following the directive, the ministry constituted a committee with its then additional secretary Kamal Krinsha as the convener.
The committee recommended forming East Zone with Chattogram and Sylhet divisions while West Zone with Pakshi and Lalmonirhat, North with Dhaka and Mymensingh divisions and the South Zone with Rajbari district and Khulna division.
Each zone will be divided into two divisions under the plan.
But the move remained stuck for past four years as no decision has been taken yet over the additional manpower to run the new zones and divisions.
Currently, Bangladesh Railway has been operating under two zones: East (Chattogram, Dhaka, Pakshi, Lalmonirhat) and West (Sylhet, Mymensing, Rajbari and Khulna).
In December last year, a consultation firm submitted a report to Bangladesh Railway stating at least 57,000 persons are needed for the proposed new zones against the actual demand of 68,000 people.
The final proposal over splitting Bangladesh Railway into four zones could not yet be sent to the public administration ministry due to the faulty proposal over the manpower structure.
Besides, the operation of Chapainawabganj-Amnua bypass Railways Station has been suspended following manpower crisis.
Contacted, Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujon said the process for splitting Bangladesh Railway into four zones is underway and effective measures will be taken soon to this end.
He also stressed the need for ending manpower crisis to ensure better services to passengers.
"Many cases are pending with courts over recruitment in different posts of the Bangladesh Railway. Initiatives will be taken to dispose those of quickly," he said.
The railways minister also said additional manpower will be recruited for providing better services to railway passengers.