Some dishonest and greedy people are allegedly getting prepared to operate unfit, faulty and unregistered water vessels ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr. The rundown water vessels are being painted to give them a new look before plying ahead of the Eid.It needs no emphasising that such rundown vessels may cause serious water vessel disasters anytime.
Reportedly, more than 3,735 people have been killed in 902 waterway accidents in the last 30 years from 1991 to 2021. According to Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) and the Shipping Department, until December, 2021 there were 13,486 registered vessels operating in the country. But some 20,000 unregistered vessels including sand carrying ships (bulkhead), trawler and speed boats are currently plying the country’s inland waterways under the very nose of the authorities concerned.
There is no alternative to strengthening the
monitoring process and if any negligence is
found actions should be taken promptly
As the homebound people think the dilapidated highways dotted with big holes may intensify the gridlock and sufferings, their number using riverine routes for Eid travel may shoot up this year. It is apprehended that the naval accidents may also increase this time due to lack of proper monitoring system of the relevant state organisations. And it is the main reason for the increasing number of waterway accidents.
There is no alternative to strengthening the monitoring process and if any negligence is found actions should be taken promptly. Building a strong taskforce involving the naval police, coastguard and BIWTA is necessary to ensure safe water transportation. Along with increasing the numbers of surveyors mobile courts are need to be conducted so that no unregistered and unfit vessel would be able to ply.
The authorities must check whether the owners are plying unfit and unregistered vessels, carrying passengers beyond capacity and driving recklessly. Besides, they will also check whether vessels are operating with insufficient safety equipment, lack of awareness about weather forecasts and scarcity of buoy lights in danger zones.
We believe the government is committed to ensure smooth movement of steamer, launch and water transports and ensure security of passengers during the Eid. In this regard, BIWTA will have to provide special service to waterway passengers aiming to ensure their safe journey during the Eid-ul-Fitr. Movement of all sand-laden bulkheads must be suspended five days before and after the Eid-ul-Fitr even day time.
Besides, all must keep in mind that nor'wester, cyclonic storm, heavy downpour or thundershowers accompanied by gusty or squally wind may occur anytime during this month.
So, homebound people, authorities and launch owners must also follow the weather forecast to avert any disaster. Last but not least, the authorities must deploy additional police force and coast guard members ahead of Eid to check plying of unfit vessels and to stop overloading.