Thursday, February 20, 2020 | ePaper

Ensure risk-free trips through riverine routes

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RECENT media reports said that frequent movement of unauthorised vessels, hidden islands and narrow channel have made around 50 kilometres of Dhaka-Barishal riverine route extremely risky. At least eight accidents took place in the area that killed two people and injured 50 others between January and August this year. The authorities failed to prevent the plying of illegal vessels though BIWTA banned movement of trawlers, cargo ships, bulkheads, dredgers and tankers at night. In an approximate calculation, nearly 50,000 passengers travel every day through the 168-kilometre naval route from Dhaka to Barishal. Of the route, from Charbaria to Barishal port in the Kirtankhola is highly accident prone.
Most of the riverine routes across the country are more or less risky for travelling. In particular, the routes become highly risky during different festivals like Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha. At that time, all triple-deck water transports make double and triple journeys to carry passengers on Dhaka-Barishal route.  Apart from this, dozens of old and unfit vehicles are plied in the riverine routes during holiday time only to make extra money by the owners.
BIWTA usually doesn't take any legal measures though most of these launches have no certified crew, valid fitness certificates, and route permits.  The launch and trawler owners show less interest in appointing trained master and driver in vessels fearing of large expense. Not only that a huge number of trawlers and speedboats, carrying passengers, and goods ply different routes without paying any tax to the government. Main reason behind it ---these vessels also do not have any registration, fitness certificate and route permit.
There is another big problem. Most of the rivers in the country are narrow where it is hard to operate vessels smoothly. Specifically from Charbaria to Barishal port in the Kirtankhola, the   BIWTA conducts dredging operations but allegedly drops the sand near the dredging point resulting in the sand returns to its previous positions with strong current, raising the hidden islands again. So, the area remains risky as always. Millions of people every year travel through the country's riverine routes but the government doesn't show any interest to modernise the communication system. 

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