Road transport and bridges minister and Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader on Tuesday said there is no scope to lightly take the incident of ferries hitting Padma bridge, report news agencies UNB and BSS.

“Our team of engineers didn’t find any sign of hitting Padma bridge. But we have given directives to probe the incident entirely within the shortest possible time. The facts will emerge when we will get the report,” he said.

He was talking to journalists after visiting the scene where a ferry hit a span of the under-construction Padma bridge this morning.

Asked why the Padma bridge is facing repeated hits, the minister said directives have been given to take stricter action to check recurrence of such incidents in the coming days.

Whether there is any sabotage behind the incidents or not will also be looked into, he said.

Quader said in 2001, the then government had appointed an unqualified person as the chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) and there was huge criticism over the matter in the media.

In that time, a group used to maintain a syndicate on the ferry and shipping business, he said, adding that those people are involved in different activities now.

So, investigations will be carried out to find whether there is any conspiracy or not, he said.

Earlier, ferry Birshreshtha Jahangir’s mast hit the 1-B span between the second and third pillars of Padma bridge on its way from Shimulia ghat to Doulatdia-Paturia route around 7.30am today.

Meanwhile, smelling a deep conspiracy behind the repeated incidents of ferries hitting the Padma bridge, state minister for shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury on Tuesday said government intelligence has been asked to investigate it and find the truth.

“I smell a big conspiracy in the latest incident of Padma bridge being hit by ferry Birshreshtha Jahangir. It struck the span between the second and third pillars of the bridge in Louhajanj today,” he told reporters at his office at the secretariat.

“As per the height of the Padma Bridge, it is impossible to hit the span of the bridge. Why did it happen today? An investigation is needed to find out who is responsible for this. We did not rule out a motive behind the incident,” said Khalid.

Already the road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader visited the spot and has ordered the authorities concerned to investigate the incident, he said.

“We want fair investigation and whoever is behind it should be exposed through investigation,” he added.

The concerned authorities of Padma bridge said there is no sign of any mark of damage on the span but they have found a video footage showing the spot where it was hit, said the state minister.

Replying to a query about the results of the previous investigation, conducted on ferry collision with Padma bridge Khalid said, “No ulterior motives were found in the previous accidents and those were actual accidents. The process to take action against those responsible for the accidents is underway.”

Referring to the alternative ferry ghat, he said Majhirkandi ghat will be launched as an alternative after the opening of the Padma bridge. Now there is a navigability problem and light vehicles will cross through the point after clearing all barriers as there is no scope to build a yard there. Padma bridge authority will give a place for the yard.”

The ferry, Birshreshtha Jahangir, had no passengers on board when it hit the span of the bridge.

This is the same ferry that hit pier 10 of Padma Bridge on 9 August, injuring five passengers and causing damage to three vehicles it was carrying. The ferry was heading to Paturia on Tuesday after repairs at Shimulia Ghat when the accident occurred.

The ferry’s mast was broken following the latest collision.

Syed Tajul Islam, chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC), told UNB that the mast on the top of the ferry collided with the span between pillars 2 and 3 of Padma Bridge and broke.

However, it is unclear whether Padma Bridge has suffered any damages.

Earlier, on 20 and 23 July, the 16th and 17th pillars of Padma bridge were hit by ferries.

There have been five more cases of ferries hitting the pillars of the bridge this year. General diaries have been filed, inquiry panels have been formed and ferry drivers suspended over these accidents.

Following the incidents, authorities have suspended ferry services on the Shimulia-Banglabazar route since 18 August to avoid any such accidents.