Collision between water vessels due to careless driving leads to river disasters every year, causing deaths and injuries to many, experts said.
Unskilled drivers, unfit vessels and mismanagement in water transport sector are to blame for this, they added.
A number of collisions occurred this year on the inland waterways across the country, killing many passengers.
According to the latest statistics of Accident Research Institute (ARI) at BUET, around 264 river accidents took place in the last 13 years, causing death of 1,430 people and injuries to 135.
Some 154 of the total accidents happened due to collisions, which was 58 percent of the total crashes.
Besides, some 31 accidents took place due to overloading and stability failure, 24 for storms, 17 for bottom rupture, 11 for excessive current and 27 for other reasons.
Of the collision incidents on waterways in 2018, one took place in the Meghna River in Chandpur on May 19.
At least four passengers received injuries as their carrier water transport, Greenline-3, collided with a sand-laden bulkhead.
On May 10, a man was injured in a head-on-collision between MV Sabbir-2 and MV Greenline-2 at Sadarghat Launch Terminal.
On March 9, 2018, six bodies were recovered from the Kirtonkhola river in Barishal Sadar after being collided with another boat there.
The deceased were identified as Zakir Hossain Dildar, 30, Iftekhar, 9, Badsha Dhali, 65, Delwar Hossain, 24, Abdul Kuddus 28, and Shah Ali, 28.
Obaidullah, former driver of Drubotara vessel, who retired from his position after serving for a long 40 years, said there are some rules to sail vessels on waterways. The violation of the rules is the main reason for collisions.
“Unskilled driver, inclement weather, excessive current and nets set to catch fish under water are some of the prime reasons behind collisions,” he said.
“But careful driving can reduce the number of collisions to a large extent on country’s waterways,” he added.
Md Imran Uddin, lecturer at ARI of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), who has been researching on water accidents for the last three years, said, “There’re many reasons for occurring collisions on waterways. The buoys, beacons and navigation lights aren’t set on waterways adequately and properly. For this reason, the drivers cannot drive their vessels rightly, leading to collisions,” he explained.
“There’s lack of skilled drivers. Our drivers are not being trained how much they should be,” he added.
The fog in winter season is also a cause for collisions, he said.
Imran Uddin thinks mismanagement in inland water transport sector is also responsible for the rising number of collisions.
The Department of Shipping (DoS) issues fitness certificates to water vessels while two departments of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), Marine Safety and Traffic Management and Conservancy and Pilotage, and River Police control the water vessels.
Contacted, Shahidul Islam, acting chairman of BIWTA, told the daily sun that the illegal sand-laden bulkheads are responsible for collisions, particularly at night.
“We are honestly trying to stop this,” he said.
Wishing anonymity, an additional deputy inspector general of River Police said police always try their best to make the vehicles maintain the rules.
Dr Zobair Ibn Awal, assistant professor at the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at BUET, said, “We can’t stop collisions to put the blame on others. It’s a problem of the exiting system. If we play blame game, the person who is blamed will find alternative logic to defend himself.”
Zobair, who has been researching on accidents for the last 13 years, said if a collision occurs, the authorities concerned should first ask the driver about the reasons behind the occurrence.
After hearing the reasons, the system should be developed to avert such an incident further, he suggests.