‘Zero tolerance to unfit river vessels’

The government will strengthen its monitoring over unfit river vessels to put an end to accidents on waterways, said State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, reports UNB.

“Unskilled sailing masters and lack of fitness are the main reasons for naval accidents...we’ve taken a zero-tolerance policy against unfit ships. Any allegation of providing fitness certificates to unfit vehicles will be acted upon immediately,” he said in an interview with UNB.

The state minister also said the design of vessels, whether carrying passengers or goods, must fully comply with instructions.

“We’ve already established two training institutes in Madaripur and Barishal, and they’ve already been given a ship for training. Besides, we’ve taken a project called ‘Vessel Traffic System’ on behalf of BIWTA,” Khalid Mahmud added.

He mentioned that the said system can be used to monitor the condition of ships at home.

Khalid Mahmud said the ministry is taking measures to modernise various ports, including extending the ones in Barishal, Chandpur and Dhaka.

“We’re trying to bring the operating ferry boats of Sadarghat area under a planned programme. Thousands of boats sail here and there with around 25,000 people getting involved there. We’re thinking of taking alternative measures,” Khalid Mahmud said, adding, “These boats are part of Dhaka’s heritage which shouldn’t be lost.”

He said a tender process is underway for implementing a dredging project involving Tk 3,500 crore for the waterway from Chattogram to Dhaka to maintain the navigability of the river. “We’re working to restore navigability by dredging 53 rivers.”

On Dhaka-Barisal route, he said, they have already taken steps to make it safer. “By inspecting these areas, I’m identifying what the problems are. I’ve taken steps to address those.”

The state minister also said there are plans to increase regional connectivity with Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

He noted that another project involving Tk 850 crore has been taken to protect the rivers around Dhaka. “We’ve sent it to the Planning Commission again as a revised project worth about Tk 2,500 crore. If this project is passed, it’ll not only save the rivers around Dhaka but will also create a pleasant environment for all.”