Bangladeshis complain of mismanagement, technical glitches in smart NID distribution

Technical glitches and mismanagement have threatened to overshadow the distribution of the smart National ID cards as complaints of long waits, and lack of coordination have surfaced from the distribution centres.

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 3 Oct 2016, 03:13 PM
Updated : 3 Oct 2016, 03:58 PM

The EC had formally launched the process of replacement of the cards on Sunday.
 
After issuing the new and upgraded smart cards to the president, the prime minister and other who's who of Bangladesh, public distribution started in Dhaka on Monday.
 

As per the EC plans, the cards are being initially made available to citizens of Uttara's ward 1 and Ramna's wards 19, 20 and 21. 
The residents of the former enclave of Dashiarchharha in the northern district of Kurhigram are also among the first batch of beneficiaries. 
But the first day was almost marred by allegations of frequent technical hiccups. 
Thanks to software malfunction, many citizens had to return without the smart ID cards after providing their biometric samples.
A lack of proper campaign meant that people queued up at the wrong locations and returned without the smart cards  after the long wait.
Hamida Gani shared her plight with bdnews24.com at Shiddeswari where she came to collect her smart ID. "With great difficulty I have the card in my hand after an hour's wait. There is a lot of mismanagement, (and a) lack of coordination," she alleged. 
Dhaka Division's election official Mihir Sarwar Murshed blamed the trouble on over-enthusiasm. Speaking to bdnews24.com, he said the 'huge' rush of the people, some at the wrong centres, hindered smooth work. 
But he conceded that some cards could not be located due to software malfunctions. Murshed added that in such cases, the fingerprint samples have been obtained and the people could have their smart IDs later.
He hoped that the experiences of the first day would help them to work more efficiently in the following days.
The morning rush had eased by noon.
Army officer Jahirul Islam came to collect his smart NID card at about 2 in the afternoon at the Uttara High School distribution centre.
He gave his fingerprint samples and had his iris scanned for biometric sample.
He had to return without his card though, because officials failed to find it.
Operator Kamrul Hasan, quizzed about the case, replied, "We have recorded his address and phone number. We could not find in which of the boxes his ID was placed owing to technical malfunctions." 
He added that 11 such cases had taken place at his table.

Uttara Sector-4 resident Nasrin rued, "No-one knows for sure when and where whose card would be distributed. I could not even find out when I would get my card," she said. 
 
Her visit to the centre at Sector-4 revealed that the smart NIDs were being distributed only in Sectors 1 and 2.
 
Uttara electoral officer Md Shah Jalal told bdnews24.com, "A heavy rush and accompanying technical problems have caused some difficulty on the first day."
 
"Hopefully everything will run smoothly from tomorrow," he said.
 
Siddeswari Girl’s High School and College centre also reported several cases of anomalies, including errors in names. 
 
However, it is here at this centre that several citizens, including Mira Rani Ghosh, expressed satisfaction at the way the distribution process was on.
 
The EC's technical department staffer Khan Md Obaidullah at Siddeswari said difficulties are being faced in cases where the fingers are scarred, or the lines on the fingers have become unclear owing to heavy manual labour.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher