Tuesday, March 19, 2019 | ePaper

Modernise the riverine routes

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DIVERS of Fire Service and Civil Defence on Sunday recovered body of another missing person from Buriganga River that raised the death toll from Thursday's boat capsize to six. Body of the female passenger was floating in the river at Telghat area of Keraniganj. Earlier on Thursday night, six members of a family went missing when a boat capsized in the Buriganga River. Five bodies were recovered on Friday and Saturday.  
According to newspaper reports, the boat sank near the Sadarghat Launch Terminal at around 10:00pm being hit by a launch, 'MV Suravi-7'. The ill-fated victims were residents of the city's Kamrangirchar area and going to board the launch to go to their home in Shariatpur district to attend a marriage ceremony. The River Police rescued 38-year-old Shahjalal after the accident and sent him to hospital as both his feet were wounded by the launch's propeller. He is now undergoing treatment at National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation.
Accident in country's riverine routes is nothing new. It only draws the media headlines if there is increasing number of causalities. Otherwise, most of the accidents remain unreported. Though waterways are very important means of communication, the authorities concerned didn't show enough interest to develop the sector.  Thousands of people of the southern region, including Barishal, Bhola, Chandpur, Patuakhali and Shariatpur, prefer riverine transport considering it cost-effective. On an average, around 87.80 million passengers use the waterways every year.
There are widespread allegations that unfit vessels, overloading of passengers, recruitment of unskilled crew, poor capacity of relevant government bodies and low standard maintenance of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) channels are prime reasons behind the fatal accidents. It's also mentionable that, most of the passengers don't obey safety rules during journey. The tragic death of six family members could be avoided if they would board the launch from main terminal, not in the mid-river from another small boat. We are surprised, how the River Police allow the launches to take passengers in such a risky way. And how the small boats are plied in the dark of the night without any navigation lights?

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