Dhaka, 07 August 2014: 16 coastal and right based organisations urged to institute legal proceedings against all concerned officials and agencies who neglected
their duties in protecting the waterways from risks. Today in a press conference organized in the National Press Club they also urged for decentralising the approval and monitoring system of the vessels and their design.
The Press conference titled “Irregularities and mismanagement are the main causes of accidents: Decentralise approval and monitoring system of the vessels” was organized by Akash, Arpan, CDP, DOCAP, Graus, NBS, PRAN, Prantojon, PULS Bangladesh, Royal Bengal Foundation, Shapla Phool, SDO, Udayan Bangladesh, Safe water way movement and COAST Trust.
Mustafa Kamal Akanda of COAST Trust moderated the press conference while Md. Mujibul Haque Munir of the same organization presents the keynotes. The other speakers were Aminur Rasul Babul of the Safe water way movement. Among others Md. Mojammel Haque Chowdhury of the Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh was also present.
In his keynote presentation Mujibul Haque Munir said, the recent incident of launch capsize is not an accident in anyway. Rather it is a consequence of frequent and continuous irregularities and mismanagement. The approval of Pinak-6 was expired. It was running with a special ‘Token’ approval of 45 days and that was also expired in last April. It had capacity of only 85 passengers and it was ‘not surprisingly’ carrying about 300 passengers. A cautionary weather signal number 2 was on in the Padma River during what no vessels less than 65 feet are allowed to run. But Pinak 6 was running with only 52 feet length and it had almost no lifebuoy on board. So, Pinak 6 is a glaring example which proves that all the management structure in that area was useless and inactive. He said, immediately after every accident investigation committees are formed but we have got merely any result from those committees. So far about 500 such committees have been formed but only three reports was published. Many committees have not even submitted their report. Scenario of the recommendations came from these committees are also frustrating. There almost no action against respective govt official and launch owners found guilty.
Mr. Aminur Rasul Babul said, strong legal proceedings should be issued against the corrupted officials. We should have proper database of all kinds and number of vessel operating in the country immediately. He also said, due to the heavy tide the launch can’t be at the same time even after three hours. But the rescue team started their operation to find out the Pinak 6 launch from the same point it was capsized even after three hours. This is absolutely useless. I think it is an illicit way to pass the time in efforts to show the reduced number of passengers the launch was carrying.
Mustafa kamal Aknada said, we have noticed that precautionary measures and resources to response immediately after the accident and to make the rescue operation in time and properly were very much inadequate. We have only 25 divers. The disaster management department must be incorporated during these types of disaster. Corrupted officials have centralized the approval and monitoring systems of the vessels only to ensure their bribed income.
Some recommendations are placed in the press conference for consideration: (1) Bring the faulty launch builders and their designers under law and order and ensure punishment for the negligence of duties as it causes huge deaths; (2) Stop the unfit vessels immediately, ensure experienced drivers and seize the faulty and risky launches and hand over to concerned agencies; (3) Decentralize the designing and approval systems down to District and Upazila level; (4) Deploy enough police force to the Marine Magistrate Court; (5) Establish law for providing compensation to the families of died and wounded by the launch capsize; (6) Enforce registering every passengers before a launch start for; (7) Deploy additional inspectors and police in the jetties during Eid and Puja festivals and stormy seasons; and (8) Ensure highest coordination among all agencies involved in the waterways.