Dhaka, 07 May 2014. Death toll in Patuakhali launch capsize rises to 15 till 5th of the May. We have learnt that, the launch MV Shathil-1 was running with a faulty design. It was capsized earlier once again. We are paying our heartiest sympathy to the family members of the people killed or injured from this accident. It has been reported that, the design on which the said launch is made has been considered obsolete from the year of 2006.
River way is always is a vital sector in terms of transportation in Bangladesh. According to the Department of Shipping about 35% of total passengers of Bangladesh use the river way, it carries about 70% of total goods and almost 90% of the petroleum transportation. River way is very popular as it is comfortable, cheap and easier. But it causes death also. It is also causing death to many people. According to study there were more than 440 launch accidents in the last one decade in Bangladesh. As many as 2,700 people died in those accidents. Between January 2001 and December 2011, the government formed more than 200 probe bodies following some major river mishaps. Of them, only five to seven probe reports were made public, Research shows that, numbers of accidents are high in April, May and October. If authorities concerned could take initiatives keeping this in mind this time, the recent deaths could have been prevented.
Form various analyses it has been found that, one of the main causes of these type of accidents is the serious ignorance of existing rules and regulations. According to a research of the Nirapod Nou path bastobayan jote (Alliance to implement safe river way) faulty design is the cause of about 70% of launch accident occurred during 1976 to 2005.
Concern department is suffering from lack of proper manpower. To oversee more than 10000 registered vehicles there are only 5 surveyors. That is why it is almost impossible to ensure proper design or proper monitoring of all the registered river vehicles. Besides that, most almost all of the existing man powers are working in the divisional level. There are about 35 thousand engine run boats or launches across the country. To monitor those river vehicles design approval and monitoring system must be decentralized up to the district and sub district level.
There are many other causes; we would like to focus on some recommendations in this regard. Our specific demand to ensure a safe river way:
• The Department of Shipping has to be given power to confine any launch found with faulty design.
• Responsibilities of approval of design and monitoring of ship making process should be given to the Department of shipping.
• Law regarding compensation to the death and injuries should be revised.
• Introducing river police unite
• Special monitoring with Magistrates during the pick seasons.