Need for tougher immigration rules at our airports
Following the recent mess-up of a Biman pilot on PM's duty, who crossed immigration without passport, questions were raised about the performance of immigration officials at the Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka. The incident caused embarrassment not only for the national carrier, which is already mired in complications, but has severely dented the image of the country.
However, why the pilot was allowed to board the plane without his passport being checked is a serious matter that sheds light on the shoddy immigration system.
This wasn't in fact, the first time someone had tricked the immigration officials, not too long ago a film actor had managed to board a flight reportedly carrying a gun.
It is said, the immigration officers are sometimes from Special Branch, but reportedly, a decision has been taken to employ only officers from immigration police to oversee the desks at the airport. Obviously, when the issue of changes in rules come, attention has to be given to the overall operation to ensure that general passengers do not feel intimidated or harassed in any way. Immigration is a sensitive issue all over the world and with militancy spreading tentacles and cyber criminals targeting Bangladesh, the work has to be thorough and meticulous but at the same time, courteous and polite.
Combining the two is certainly not an easy task and to make immigration officers professional and accountable is also necessary. At immigration check points, the main pressure comes from first time overseas workers. Handling them requires patience and it's understandable that at times, immigration officials become exasperated and irritated. To tackle this, the best way is to open a separate immigration desk (s) to deal exclusively with workers who are going or coming back. These will not deal with any other passenger, thus reducing the load on other immigration desks. Also, special skill development is essential since IT savvy cyber criminals are targeting Bangladesh.
As part of the revamping, high tech equipment can be added along with a system to alert the authority if a passport is not sealed by mistake. General passengers regularly talk about high level of corruption at the airport in Dhaka which can only be countered once strict regulations are enforced and officials punished for flouting the law. To ease the pressure on immigration officials, shift time can be reduced or half an hour break introduced after every two hours. No point in introducing high tech security gadgets if the officers are perennially irked.