The Election Commission’s initiative to issue laminated National ID cards to 10 million citizens has been deferred due to low quality printing causing problems in obtaining services at different sectors.
The Election Commission is contemplating cancelling the contract with the private company which printed the cards due to their low quality printing.
This is the second time the EC has failed to meet a deadline to provide laminated NID to 10 million citizens.
“We haven’t accepted the cards because of their low quality and the process is underway to re-print them,” Brigadier General Mohammed Saidul Islam, director general of the NID Registration wing told bdnews24.com.
He expressed his hope that the new cards will be printed within the next six months.
However, new laminated NID will be printed and distributed once the Election Commission ‘makes a new decision’ on the issue, Abdul Baten, director of operations at the NID registration wing told .
“We are not sure about the distribution date; there will be a delay,” said another official who chose to remain anonymous.
During a meeting in 2017 the EC had declared the emergency distribution of smartcards to 10 million registered first-time voters prior to the upcoming general election.
Those voters, who haven’t received their NID since 2012, were also supposed to get smartcard too, said Abdul Baten. The NID wing proposed it would provide laminated NIDs to 10 million citizens in 2017, after the issue remained dormant for few years.
At least three companies applied for the work order but there was a complaint that the contract was given to the highest bidder instead of the lowest one. However, the organisation has not met the required quality as per the contract.
“It has been recommended that the contract be scrapped due to the low quality. The next steps will be taken after the commission makes a decision,” said Baten.
The contracted organisation printed two-thirds of the cards which were sent to seven districts. NID wing officials began an investigation of the issue when the quality of the cards was questioned by field level officials.
An investigation found at least eight types of flaws in the cards including use of refill ink in printing, improper cutting of the cards, less heat used while laminating, storing more than one card in a single pouch, the bending of cards while putting in the pouch and others.
The probe recommended ‘not to send the cards to the field level’ and that ‘it is better to reprint and distribute the cards.’
“The concerned organisation will bear the loss of millions and not the Election Commission,” said an official when asked if the cost of the error will be borne by the government.