Collision between ferry and Padma Bridge
In 2022, a big dream of ours is about to be fulfilled and that is that the Padma Bridge will be opened for vehicles movement. The final work on the Padma Bridge is progressing very fast, and we all know that in a few months this bridge will be open to all. This bridge is a great national asset to us and a great symbol of our strength and capability. The Padma Bridge is going to be a major milestone in the communication of Bangladesh and it is not just a milestone in the communication, it is going to be a major source of our economic driving force.
A few days ago, a ferry named Shahjalal collided with pillars No. 17 of Padma Bridge and at least 35 passengers were injured. Following the incident, Ferry Master Abdur Rahman was suspended temporarily and a four-member inquiry committee was formed. Earlier, another ferry named Shah Makhdum collided with the 16th pillar of Padma Bridge and the floor of the ferry got leaked. According to Abdur Rahman, the master of Shahjalal Ferry, the electric circuit of the ferry fell near the 17th pillar of the bridge.
When the steering stopped, the ferry lost control and hit the bridge pole. However, some of the passengers on the ferry said that there was strong wind and current in the river at the same time which may have caused the accident. Although the ferry collided with the pillar, the pillar of the bridge was not damaged but the ferry was slightly damaged.
The good news for us is that the pillars of the Padma Bridge were not damaged, but this incident should never be taken lightly or simply. There should be a fair and impartial investigation into this incident and the investigation report must be published in a timely manner. The exact cause of the accident should be ascertained through investigation and must be investigated impartially whether the ferry was fit and at the same time the driver was qualified or experienced.
However, BIWTC believes that the collision of the ferry Shah Jalal with the pillars of the Padma Bridge was due to negligence. According to BIWTC, the Padma River often has strong currents and due to which the ferry drivers cannot control the ferry properly and this leads to accidents. BIWTC also thinks that many old ferries move on this route and due to the mechanical faults of these ferries in the mid river, it is not possible for the driver to control. However, this is not the first time that a ferry has collided with the pillars of the Padma Bridge. Such incidents have happened more than once before but no effective action has been taken.
The bridge authorities requested the BIWTC to run ferry with extra caution. The Padma Bridge authorities have issued a specific instruction to the ferry authorities to proceed with utmost caution and safety. The bridge authority further thinks that the drivers should have special training as the ferries cross the bridge area.
The collision between the 17th pillar of the bridge and the Shahjalal ferry was not as severe as it used to be, but there was a risk of a major accident that could have resulted in loss of life and property. Keeping in mind all the possibilities and considering the safety of our national resource Padma Bridge, we must take necessary and effective and swift action. When ferry passes through the middle of the pillars of the Padma Bridge, it is necessary to specify in advance what kind of rules and instructions the drivers will follow.
The engineers of the Padma Bridge have claimed that the pillars of the bridge have been constructed in such a way that it is capable of withstanding any kind of collision but we would expect that such collisions would not happen in any way. There needs to be an in-depth review of why ferries collide with the pillars over and over again and there needs to be a fair and impartial investigation and find out a perfect solution.
On October 4, 2016, the floor of a ferry named Jamuna exploded due to a collision with a dredger pipe. On December 7, 2020, a ferry collided with the Dredger pipe in the middle of the Padma River. An investigation committee has been formed after the collision of ferry Shah Jalal with pillar No. 17 of Padma Bridge. But there is no information about the collision that took place between the 16th pillar and a ferry named Shahmakhdum and there is no investigation and even BIWTC is reluctant to admit it. The same thing is happening again and again.
The distance from one pillar to another of the Padma Bridge has been made in such a way that a ferry can easily cross through it. However, the cause of the collision between the ferry and the pillars of the Padma Bridge should be investigated and effective action should be taken as soon as possible. Necessary instructions and steps need to be taken now to ensure smooth and easy navigation under the Padma Bridge so that no more accidents occur. It is essential to repair the old ferries and broken ferry machinery and provide skill training to the drivers and ensure their physical and mental well-being.
The writer is assistant professor, B A F Shaheen College Kurmitola, Dhaka Cantonment