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8 December, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Waterway accidents go on amid inaction

72 passenger launch accidents kill at least 242 in last 5 years
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, Dhaka
Waterway accidents go on amid inaction

Disregard for the guidelines of the Department of Shipping (DoS) by vessel owners and masters and lack of action against perpetrators are seen as the main contributing factors to water vessel accidents in waterways across the country. At least 72 passenger launch accidents have taken place in the last five years, which resulted in the deaths of at least 242 innocent people across the country, according to National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways (NCPSRR).

While dozens of probe committees have so far been formed over accidents in the last 10 years—no visible action was seen against perpetrators involved in launch or other water vessel accidents in waterways, giving a sense of impunity, multiple sources told this correspondent.

Experts also said that ill competition in plying ships, disregards for navigation rules and lack of caution are other major causes for accidents in waterways.

While reports have been prepared by inquiry committees formed over launch accidents in different periods for every accident, the reports have not been published for unknown reasons, and no correctional or punitive steps were taken, sources said.

According to NCPSRR, a total of 242 people have so far been killed and 169 went missing in 72 launch accidents in the last five years across the country. Of them, 17 launch accidents kill 31 people and missing 29 in 2018, 15 launch accidents kill 37 people and missing 21 in 2017, nine launch accidents kill 28 people and missing seven in 2016, 13 launch accidents killed 39 people and missing 27 in 2015 and 18 launch accidents killed 107 people and with another 85 missing in 2014.

In 2014-15, a total of 25 accidents have taken place in the waterways leaving at least 150 people dead and several hundred injured.

According to experts, not a single recommendation made by any probe committee formed after fatal accidents in waterways has been implemented by the authorities concerned. A majority of the passenger launches and other water vessels are operating either without proper fitness certificates or with inexperienced masters, sources said.

Besides, it is also alleged that most of the staff of the launches always ply their vessels violating norms and rules of the inland shipping laws, sources further said.

“Most of the probe committee reports have not been published. Besides, the authorities concerned even don’t implement the recommendation of probe committees formed after launch accidents,” Haji Md Shahid Mia, president of NCPSRR told this correspondent.

He urged the department concerned for taking stern action against those who are involved in plying water vessels ignoring shipping laws, including action against the owners.

When contacted over the matter, Commodore Syed Ariful Islam, director general of DoS told The Independent, “It is not a fitness problem—the accident on Saturday took place due to the inefficiency of the launch master and ill-competition.”

“No major incident took place in the last five years in waterways,” he said, adding “It was made possible due to the implementation of various recommendations made by bodies.”

“I am not fully agreed that the recommendations are not being implemented. It is very difficult to stop ill competition in waterways. The owners of water vessels must follow the rules of the DoS,” Islam said in reply to a query.

He said they (DoS) always issues circulars for different periods.

He said they are taking measures against the violators.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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