Vol. 4 Num 213 Wed. December 31, 2003  
Star Chittagong

A Long Wait for Pension

A visit to Pay & Cash Office of Bangladesh Railway in Chittagong during this time of the year is sure to get one stunned with a most pitiable sight. The annual hazira (attendance) of the pensioners of eastern zone is going on at the Pay & Cash Office adjoining the old railway station building here. Several hundred pensioners, mostly old and infirm or helpless, struggle for hours to get the earnings of their last days. At the normal time when the pensioners draw their money through representatives each month or at a time after several months, the crowd is in tolerable limit. But during this time of hazira, each of them has to appear before the officials in person from different parts of the country. The crowd caused immeasurable sufferings. Two small waiting rooms with poor sitting arrangements and two dilapidated latrines giving off bad smell are all for the elderly men and women. With the waiting rooms outside the main building of Pay & Cash Office always remain overcrowded, they wait for hours for pensions in a long queue in open space being exposed to sun and rains. The authorities concerned have fixed December 1-24 for annual hazira of about 6000 pensioners to draw their money from the headquarters and 2000 through postal department from January 1to 22.Though the crowd would be less during the second phase of hazira, the scenario would be more piteous when they would be receiving pensions through postal department as they would be arriving from remote areas of different districts including Dhaka. Besides long journey, it would take at least two days to register their attendance. To reduce sufferings of the elderly pensioners, the Cash Office with its inadequate staffs sometimes runs even in night. The pensioners said payment through banks like some other civil departments could mitigate their ordeal. Manager Pay & Cash Office, Quazi Sayedur Rahman said considering the condition of the pensioners we are now making payment throughout the month and pensioners are divided into several groups. Separate dates have been fixed for payment for each group," he said. "Besides, we are now thinking of setting programme for registering attendance in different groups and in different dates as done during the usual payment of pension," he added.