Yet another launch capsize, another very large number of casualties, many left orphaned, many parents left to mourn the deaths of their children, deprived of their company for the rest of their lives. Reportedly, the capsize was caused when a bigger launch, Moyur-2, rammed the smaller one, Morning Bird, while reversing. So far, 32 bodies have been recovered. It was carrying more than its capacity, according to media reports.
Reportedly, a novice was allegedly at the helm. And we learnt from the horse's mouth that the incident seemed preplanned, carried out intentionally. The State Minister for Shipping went so far as to suggest to reporters that it was murder.
The accident is a reenactment of most of the previous launch disasters, where either the quality of the operators, or the lack of fitness of vessels have led to such capsizes. Various descriptions of the events leading up to the disaster suggest that the bigger vessel was being handled by raw hands. For one thing the errant launch, as reported, was being steered by a novice. And the unfortunate launch that capsized, we are told, had some structural weakness, but was yet allowed to operate with certain caveats.
It is unfortunate that river travel and transportation, which was once a pleasurable, safe and sure way of travelling, has come to be plagued by gross mismanagement, poor oversight and a general state of disorder. While a large part of our population are dependent fully on this mode, and more vessels have been added to the river fleet, unfortunately, the cycle of accidents and casualties remain unending. The Tk 150,000 for the family of each of the dead is an ex-gratia payment, but no amount of money can be enough recompense for the loss of one's child, parent or sibling. The owners of Moyur-2 must be brought before the law, punished severely and made to pay for the lives lost. But more importantly, it is time for the river transport authorities to pull up their socks and do something quickly to stop these horrible accidents that continue to occur ad nauseam.