Investigation by the media after the sinking of Pinak-6 has revealed some dismal facts about the inland water transportation system. The number of violations ranges from vessels not having fitness certificates to faulty design. What is even more alarming is that there is no coordination among the various agencies tasked with overseeing that passenger-carrying vessels conform to safety standards. And once a vessel goes down, the severe lack of both manpower and salvage equipment has once again been highlighted with the Pinak-6 ferry, which has yet to be located, let alone salvaged.
It is a shocking fact that more than 1,500 risky vessels are operating on our rivers carrying tens of thousands of passengers who may or may not get to their destinations safely. That BIWTA and the National Shipping Corporation do not see any reason to call representatives of the other agency in the investigation into the latest sinking merely goes to highlight both lack of coordination and sincerity in getting to the bottom of the accidents. And precisely how are we to expect change for the better when a mobile court suspends the registration of a launch belonging to the shipping minister's family due to lack of safety equipment on the vessel?
It is not only graft that is responsible for letting unfit and faulty-design vessels ply river routes but also the lack of political will to make different departments function in a cohesive manner to ensure that standards are maintained and rules are followed.