River transportation mismanagement in Bangladeshby Md Rezaul Karim Asst. Prof.
That 4 ferries ran aground in a shoal in the river Padma on Daulatdia-Paturia route for three hours lately may well be a poignant pointer to not only the poor navigability of the rivers across the country but also the dismal performance of the ministry concerned, the shipping ministry that is, in recent times. According to a report published in the newspaper, until the ferries, carrying over 100 vehicles, that got stuck in hidden shoal at around 6.00 am, were salvaged at 9.00 am, all ferry services between Daulatdia and Paturia remained suspended for that period leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded at Daulatdia and Paturia, causing huge sufferings to thousands of passengers, drivers and staff of the vehicles. This is a picture among many other incidents.
Worryingly still, as the manager commerce of the BIWTA (Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation) admitted that ferry services on this route get disrupted frequently apparently due to loss of navigability in the Padma. Pertinently, according to media reports, a launch carrying 2000 passengers to Barisal got stuck in a hidden shoal in the river Meghna, near Chandpur, for around 14 hours on August 27, just a few days before the Eid-ul-Fitr. Besides, two ferries, with 50 vehicles on board, ran aground in hidden shoals on Mawa-Kawrakandi route during the same period, which have been rescued after five days. Overall, the waterways, once very popular with the travelers largely for safe and sound journey, have turned to be somewhat of a nightmare thanks to, among other reasons, numerous hidden shoals in different rivers crisscrossing the country.
It is true that shoals that have led to the loss of navigability, especially of the major rivers, have not developed overnight; rather, unceasing negligence on the part of the successive governments over the years towards applying silt management strategies to those rivers is responsible for such a condition. However, in the wake of its assumption of power in 2009, the incumbent government talked about a master plan regarding capital dredging of all the major rivers of the country to increase navigability thereof. But, regrettably, little has been done in this regard thus far. What is worse, the shipping minister, whose principal duty is to ensure safe and smooth movement for all the craft plying waterways, appears to have remained busy with anything but this very task, during last two and a half years or so. Allegations have it that being the executive president of the Government party off shoot Bangladesh Sarak Paribahan Sramik Federation, who has engaged himself in meddling in the activities of the communications ministry, like persuading the minister concerned to issue thousands of driving licenses without any test, although reckless driving is a major factor behind road crashes that have recently become almost an epidemic in the country.
Either way, under these circumstances, it seems to have become imperative for the government to comply with the public demand in the first place regarding the removal of the shipping minister. It also needs to take effective steps to ensure navigability of, at least, the major rivers without any delay.
Created on Dec 31st 1969 18:00. Viewed 0 times.