• Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Some unanswered questions about the launch tragedies

Ridwan Quaium

LAUNCH accidents has become recurring events in the country. Before even recovering from the news of one launch accident we get to hear the news of another. News of launch accidents have become so common that it does not affect us anymore unless we lose someone close in these accidents. This is probably why even though we form human chains and use hashtag in our writing to recognize and protest again many world events we have not done anything similar for the more than 100 victims of the launch, Pinak-6 that capsized in the Padma River on Monday.

The reasons for Pinak-6 to capsize are the same as those that capsized previously, which is -- carrying passengers in excess of its capacity and for operating even though it had been assessed as unfit by the authority. After this launch accident, the  government has taken the same initiative as it had after every other launch  capsize  in the past, which is to form committees to investigate the causes of the accidents and ordering these committees to provide the report of the investigation after a certain period.

Just this year alone there were several launch mishaps where a large number of people perished. To ensure that such launch disaster  do not  recur, it is important to determine a few things – if anyone was punished or penalized for the negligence and wrongdoing for which the accident occurred, do the authorities in charge of ensuring that the launches are not being overloaded continue to blame each other and keep citing lack of manpower to shy away from their duty,  and has the government taken any initiative that will prevent such mishaps in the future such as – (i)strengthening the capacity and enhancing coordination among the authorities in charge of monitoring the launches, (ii) penalizing launch operators that are carrying more passengers than its capacity and operating launches that have been assessed as unfit, (iii) increasing the number of 'fit' launches equipped with life jackets and other safety kits and (iv) organizing awareness programs to warn people about the dangers of riding in overcrowded launches.

It is apparent that compared to the demand there is an acute shortage of launches in the country. This is why people are sometimes forced to travel in unsafe conditions in over-crowded launches, unwittingly putting them in harm's way. From media report we know that the shipbuilding industry in our country has flourished in the past few years. Some European countries have already bought ships manufactured in Bangladesh. With support from the government agencies the shipbuilding industry may help to solve the crisis of river vessels in the country by manufacturing high-capacity, modern, high-tech and energy efficient launches. This will hopefully put an end to the launch disasters which have become epidemic.

The writer is a Transport Engineer. He works and lives in Thailand.

Published: 12:00 am Wednesday, August 06, 2014

TAGS: launch capsize launch accidents

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