Two ships abandoned for 12 years, Tk 2.4 million lost per year

None of the ships could be sold after being declared abandoned. Money wasted on maintenance.

A ship left abandoned year after year. Photo taken from the fishing port on the south banks of Karnaphuli River in Chattogram.Prothom Alo

Despite being declared out-of-order, two vessels of Chattogram’s Marine Fisheries Survey Management Unit under the Department of Fisheries have been left abandoned for the last 12 years.

Fisheries department is counting losses of more than Tk 2.4 million (24 lakh) per year by leaving these two ships idle. Besides, the vessels that were used for research purposes are losing their value.

Those two out-of-order ships are RV Onushandani and RV Machhranga. At a time, the fisheries department used to conduct survey on sea fish with these two ships.

According to section 10 (3) of the guidelines on declaration of abandonment and disposal of government motor vehicles, vessels, computers and other equipment, ‘abandoned-declared vessel, haul body or engines can be sold through sealed tenders’.

It was learnt from talking to the officials of the department and looking through the documents that fisheries department used Onushandani ship from 1980-2001 and Machhranga ship from 1986-1997 for the work of surveying sea fish.

RV Onushandani has not been used since 2001 while, RV Machhranga has not been used since 1997. After leaving those ships idle for respectively 9 and 13 years fisheries and livestock ministry finally declared them abandoned and directed to sell them through auction in 2010. Despite almost 12 years have passed after that, fisheries department could not sell the vessels yet.

The way money is wasted

Marine Fisheries Survey Management Unit has counted a loss of about Tk 4.9 million (49 lakh) in last two fiscal years only by leaving those ships abandoned.

Sources say, those two ships have been kept at Chattogram fishing harbour of Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation (BFDC). In the last couple of year, fisheries department had to pay about Tk 2.4 million (24 lakh) to Chattogram fishing harbour as maintenance cost of those two ships.

Apart from that more than Tk 200 thousand was spent as VAT and another Tk 100 thousand was spent as income tax. Besides, 11 deckhand labourers and three permanent employees have been performing their duties at the place where the ships have been kept.

During the period of last two years, more than Tk 400 thousand has been spent on those 11 labourers’ daily wages of Tk 575 while about Tk 1.8 million (18 lakh) was paid to those three permanent employees.

In this way a total of almost Tk 4.9 million (49 lakh) was spent on those two abandoned ships in past two years.

Where is the crisis

Fisheries department took initiative to sell those two ships in the same year they were declared abandoned. Several officials of the department under condition of anonymity told Prothom Alo that, tenders had been called nine times for selling RV Onushandani since 2010.

While the process of calling the ninth tender was going on in 2015, a company named Measures Adan Trading bought the ship at a cost of over Tk 12 million (1 crore 20 lakh 10 thousand and 500) through the eighth tender.

On the other hand another company named M/s Accede Enterprise bought RV Machhranga away with Tk 4.5 million (45 lakh 5 thousand) in 2019.

However, after the sale was finalised the ministry added a condition that those ships cannot be used for fishing. For that, those two companies denied to take those ships over and filed cases in the High Court. Those cases are still going on.

Md Sharif Uddin, director (marine) of Chattogram Marine Fisheries Academy and head of Marine Fisheries Survey Management Unit on this issue said to Prothom Alo, “They don’t want to take those ships on our terms.”

K Mahbubul Haque, director general of fisheries department while talking to Prothom Alo recently, said special initiatives are required to dispose of those cases.