Yet another waterway disaster, yet another line of corpses
At least 33 people were killed on Monday when a small launch, named ML Morning Bird coming from Munshiganj sank in the Buriganga after being hit by a larger vessel near the Farashganj Ghat.
It has been suspected that the death toll may rise. The disaster was unexpected and completely avoidable. A novice was allegedly steering the Moyur-2. However, according to the chief engineer and ship surveyor at the shipping department, it was a human error and gross negligence on the part of the Moyur-2.
We have become almost accustomed to waterway disasters especially during Eid period and that usually occurs because of the mad rush of home goers overcrowding our vessels. But this incident is very unusual at this time of the year. The launch was carrying half of its capacity-- only 60-70 people, which clearly states, that the launch was not overcrowded. In another report it has been stated that it took only 9 seconds for the watercraft to be drowned. This incident is a clear indication that, similar to our traffic rules, navigation rules are also not followed in our waterways. Another point to be noted, there are allegations that many captains do not anchor their vessels at their designated place which leads to accidents. Thus it ends up hitting other vessels. Another factor has been perceived--ill competition occurs finding the best possible spot for anchoring at the terminal. This visible chaotic situation is clearly hinting at the gross mismanagement in waterways traffic systems.
Now, the question arises what are the BIWTA authorities doing? Aren't they responsible for the accidents? Why are there no stringent rules for anchoring at the terminal? And what are the terminals' security-staffs doing? On the other hand the experts have also blamed the negligence of the launch owners, drivers, and the lack of proper monitoring for preventing accidents. Most importantly, be it a launch, steamer or engine boat, it is time to bring all captains and vessel operators under the scanner and verify whether they are properly trained to steer their vessels or not. Another allegation has been made that much of our anchoring place is not well accommodated. Due to space shortage captains will obviously rush and compete with one another.
However, two probe teams have been formed and given 72 hours to submit their findings. We expect that the authority will give proper attention to navigating and traffic rules which would be stringently followed by the drivers and terminal authorities. They should make a law that if anyone violates it, he/she will be accordingly penalised. And the culprit involved in the mishap should be handed out with exemplary punishment. Thanks to the law enforcers as they have filed case against 7 people. Thousands upon thousands of lives have been lost to disasters in the waterways and more than ever before it is time we did the needful to stop these senseless tragedies from happening every year.