We are worried to learn about the increasing incidents of theft of RMG products on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway. According to a report by this daily, organized gangs have been stealing garment items from the lorries on the highway, which has reached an alarming rate of late. According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufa-cturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), two incidents of theft were reported in 2019, nine in 2020, and 22 until July this year. Industry insiders say the actual number of incidents would be much higher.
These incidents are not only ruining the reputation of our apparel industry, but garment exporters are incurring huge financial losses as well. They are losing the buyers' trust, which they fear may also lead to cancellation of work orders, affecting the country's export earnings. Reportedly, the gangs involved in these crimes have established such a foolproof system to steal that it is impossible to find out about the theft by exporters and buyers until they open the cartons. According to police, in some cases, 30-40 percent of the total consignment is stolen and sold at much lower prices in the local market or to some foreign buyers. The situation is, no doubt, alarming and calls for urgent action.
It is, however, good to know that the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has identified some of the gangs and has also arrested some of their members, including the ringleader of a gang. The police have reportedly also found out about the entire process of how and where the thefts take place. We hope that they will continue their operations to arrest all the gangs involved in the crime.
While the police play their part, we hope the central authorities will also take the issue seriously. They must ensure proper vigilance by immediately arranging for CCTV cameras to be installed on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway. In addition, to protect their goods, RMG owners can also consider carrying those by their own trucks, if possible, or send trucks by police escort, as proposed by the law enforcement agency. They can also use GPS trackers to monitor their vehicles. If these steps are taken by the garment exporters, the police, and the government in a coordinated way, we think the theft of garment items on the highway can be prevented.
It's perhaps time for all to realize that not all are aware of the low margins of the original manufacturers. Thus, we need to try and attempt to correct that perception through honest narratives and professional lobbying, and we also need to make a clear connection between wages and productivity. The wage-skill grid must be practiced to assess the basic efficiency of the workers and wages must be determined accordingly. This would translate into a win-win scenario for all.