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Decentralise vessel permit and monitoring and sue corrupted officials

16 coastal and right based organisations urged to institute legal proceedings against all concerned officials and agencies who neglected their duties in protecting the waterways from risks. Today in a press conference organized in the National Press Club they also urged for decentralising the approval and monitoring system of the vessels and their design.

The Press conference titled “Stop the unapproved vessels: Decentralise approval and monitoring system of the vessels” was organized by Akash, Anwesha, Arpan, CDP, DOCAP, Graus, NBS, PRAN, Prantojon, PULS Bangladesh, Royal Bengal Foundation, Shapla Phool, SDO, Udayan Bangladesh, Unnayan Dhara Trust and COAST Trust.

Mr. Aminur Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara Trust moderated the press conference while Mr. Mujibul Haque Munir of COAST Trust presents the keynotes. The other speakers were Shabnam Hafiz of Somaj, Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of COAST Trust, Mostafa Kamal Akanda of COAST Trust and Masud Alam of DOCAP.

In his keynote presentation Mujibul Haque Munir said, both of the two vessels capsized recently had faulty design and not appropriate for the current situation of the water rout. The measurment of MV Miraj was 35.67M of length, 7.03M of width and 1.9M of depth. The depth should be at least 3 meters according to its length. It was also evident that it was carrying much more passengers than its capacity. The approved capacity of this vessel was 202 persons while it was carrying 365 passengers according to its register. The authority had no preparation for the stormy season of May-June.

Mr. Aminur Rasul Babul said, strong legal proceedings should be issued against the corrupted officials and Naval Architects should be appointed for designing the vessels. He added, we should have proper database of all kinds and number of vessel operating in the country immediately. He also said, there is a passengers’ welfare fund collected in the jetty having no transparency.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of COAST Trust said, the continuous launch capsizing is going on only due to some corrupted officials. They have centralized the approval and monitoring systems of the vessels only to ensure their bribed income. The vessel owners are not sued as they are involved with the ruling political party. To secure the waterways of the country and to save the people’s lives it must be free from political party influences. He added, we have to remember that we have to protect our waterways for our own interest, as the donors have no interest on it. They only take care of the road transportation to increase their vehicle market.

Shabnam Hafiz of Somaj said, if strong legal proceedings are instituted against the concerned and responsible for the launch capsize, the number of accidents could be decreased.

Some recommendations are placed in the press conference for consideration: (1) Bring the faulty launch builders and their designers under law and order and ensure punishment for the negligence of duties as it causes huge deaths; (2) Stop the unfit vessels immediately, ensure experienced drivers and seize the faulty and risky launches and hand over to concerned agencies; (3) Decentralize the designing and approval systems down to District and Upazila level; (4) Deploy enough police force to the Marine Magistrate Court; (5) Establish law for providing compensation to the families of died and wounded by the launch capsize; (6) Enforce registering every passengers before a launch start for; (7) Deploy additional inspectors and police in the jetties during Eid and Puja festivals and stormy seasons; and (8) Ensure highest coordination among all agencies involved in the waterways.

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