The launch capsize that killed 34 people on Sunday evening near the third Shitalakshya Bridge, under construction in Char Syedpur Koylaghat area, was not inevitable. As we have seen in a video and also learned from eyewitnesses, the launch was not hit by any natural disaster, rather it was hit by a cargo ship and sank. The launch did not sink as soon as it was hit. It tilted while many of the passengers jumped into the river. In this situation, the cargo ship that hit the launch, hit it again and move ahead by sinking it.
In other words, the driver of the cargo ship is responsible for the drowning of the launch and the loss of so many lives. The situation will become clearer if the two committees formed to investigate into the accident get detailed information about the incident. It was known from beforehand that the river narrowed near the construction area. Special measures were needed to ensure order in the movement of ships through the point. But it is clear from the video footage of Sunday's accident that no effective measures were taken to control naval traffic. There will always be risk of such accident if this situation continues.
Many people die in launch capsize every year in Bangladesh. Most accidents occur during pre-monsoon season (season of Kalbaishakhi storm). The time is around the corner. Although the storm was not the cause of Sunday's accident, it should be considered as the first warning ahead of the season. There is a need to improve naval traffic management to avoid potential accidents in other parts of the country, including that part of the Shitalakshya river. In this case, the accountability of the people concerned must also be ensured. The driver of the cargo ship responsible for Sunday's accident and others involved must be brought to book. The naval traffic control authority also has to be held accountable for the incident.
One of the causes of loss of life in capsize is carrying extra passengers on the launch. Small vessels are more prone to capsize during monsoon. The risk is much higher if there are extra passengers. For that, small launches of 50-60 feet in size should be removed and the number of large ships should be increased. To avoid accidents and for business convenience, many boat owners want to launch large launches instead of small ones, but there are allegations that large launches are not being approved due to the interests of a certain quarter. If this allegation is true, immediate steps must be taken to resolve it. Initiatives should be taken to remove all small launches from the river and bring larger launches before the onset of monsoon. Larger launches do not required to transport additional passengers. At the same time, larger launches are less likely to sink in storms than the smaller ones.
However, not only the size of the launch, all the rules of passenger transportation should also be properly complied with and steps should be taken to reduce the risk of naval accidents by increasing efficiency, responsibility and accountability in naval traffic control. It is not desirable to repeat the loss of life in any other naval accidents.