IT is hardly surprising that yet another launch has capsized in the Padma river with over 100 passengers feared dead. When one takes into account the fact that the vessel was operating on an invalid fitness certificate, is it any wonder that it went down in the choppy waters? Moreover, given its capacity to carry 85 passengers and the failure of BIWTA authorities to monitor the overcrowding of such unworthy vessels, in this case some 200 passengers were reportedly onboard, one can only condemn the abject negligence of duty and treat human lives as play things.
Again, regular as clockwork, an “investigative” body has been formed to go into the matter. But what we would like to know whether the report will be made public and more important its findings will be acted on. The ministry for disaster management and relief will be handing out cheques worth Tk20,000 per victim, but is that the sum worth an individual's life?
Every year, we publish incidents of passenger ferries sinking during Eid holidays. Bereaved family members find some consolation when the bodies of their loved ones are recovered; less consolation for those whose loved ones never return from the depths of the rivers. How many years must we write about accidents and loss of life before the river authority gets its act together about enforcing rules and regulations regarding passenger safety?