Unsafe water transports ply 'danger zone' defying ban | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 27, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 27, 2011

Unsafe water transports ply 'danger zone' defying ban


A trawler full of passengers crossing Tajumudding point of Meghna river in Bhola defying ban on plying' danger zone' from March 15-October 15. The photo was taken a few days ago. Photo: STAR

Unsafe water transports including passenger launches, trawlers and speedboats have continued plying the 'danger zone' of river estuaries in the southern region and coastal areas during the stormy season, defying seven months' ban from March 15 to October 15.
Against the backdrop of several fatal launch and trawler accidents, the Directorate of Sea Transportation imposed the ban in 2000 on about 3000 kilometres long routes, said Maruf Hossain, inspector shipping directorate office in Barisal.
The ban, aimed at minimising loss of life in the region vulnerable to cyclone, nor-wester and tidal surges, became virtually ineffective as the authorities failed to arrange sufficient safe vessels like sea trucks or those having sea survey fitness certificate during the long ban period.
In absence of safe water transportation in this island areas, local people have to avail unsafe small motor launches, boats, trawlers and speedboats on Meghna, Ilisha, Kocha, Baleswar, Bishkhali, Tentulia river estuaries and coastal areas, said Dr Mizanur Rahman, member-secretary of Barisal Nagorik Parishad.
At least 29 unsafe motor launches and vessels and a large number of unregistered trawlers and speedboats without any fitness certificate and route permit regularly ply the waters from Hizla, Mehendiganj of Barisal, Borhanuddin, Charfession, Daulatkhan, Tazumuddin, Monpura, Ilisha of Bhola, Moju Chowdhuhir Hut of Laxmipur district, even ignoring adverse weather signals, said passengers and locals.
"We have met with the local administration, police, navy, coastguard and other law enforcement authorities and launch owners and operators and requested the authorities concerned to take legal action against the violators of the ban," said Md Masud Parvez, acting deputy director of marine safety and traffic management department of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) in Barisal.
Admitting the acute shortage of vessels approved for plying the danger zone, Gopal Chandra Majumdar, assistant manager BIWTC Barisal station, said they placed three sea trucks on danger zone routes and another one will be added soon.
BIWTC arranged sea truck services only for six of the 26 major stations in the 'danger zone', sources said.
The people from remaining 20 stations and many other 'temporary' stations have to travel on unapproved small water transports like trawlers and country boats, much to the risk of their life and goods, said locals.
Golam Mustafa Chowdhury, president of Barguna district trawler owners association, said, "The restriction was introduced 11 years ago and since then the directorate did not survey the routes for updating the list of areas under the danger zone and approval of vessels. The deep sea going fishing trawlers often ply the coastal danger zone areas safely."

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