Monitor bulkheads, conduct mobile courts to prevent waterway accidents: National committee

16 killed as speedboat collides with bulkheadCollected

The National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads, and Railways has issued a demand for an operation against all types of illegal vessels, including the monitoring and control of sand-carrying vessels (bulkheads) movement to prevent waterway accidents. In a press release on Monday, the organisation called for immediate implementation of mobile courts throughout the country, UNB reports.

The president of the organisation, Mohammad Shahid Mia, and its general secretary Ashis Kumar Dey made the call in a statement to the Ministry of Shipping, Department of Shipping (DoS), Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), River Police and Coast Guard.

The leaders of the civic organisation called for the involvement of district administration and the district police for public interest.

In addition to punishing sailors without documents, the statement also demands that vessel owners be held accountable for employing sailors and masters without proper papers.

The statement expresses deep concern over frequent waterway accidents and the sinking of passenger boats in different parts of the country due to bulkheads. Despite the prohibition on the movement of bulkheads from sunset to sunrise, the statement highlights that hundreds of bulkheads are operating at night without proper oversight from the administration.

Citing the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Shipping, the leaders of the National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads, and Railways state that while the number of registered vessels is 15,000, there are at least 85,000 vessels of various types across the country. Among these, approximately 70,000 vessels are operating illegally, with bulkheads making up at least 6,000 of them.

According to the statement, out of 15,000 registered boats, regular annual survey (fitness test) is done only for 8,000. As per the knowledge of the concerned officials of the DoS and BIWTA, the remaining 7,000 unfit boats are plying freely. But the authorities concerned don’t take action against those for unknown reasons, the statement said. As a result, accidents occur often.

Eight people died when a passenger carrying trawler sank after being hit by a bulkhead in the Padma river in Munshiganj on Saturday night and three passengers died when a waterbus sank after being hit by a bulkhead in the Buriganga river at Keraniganj in Dhaka on the night of 17 July.