Thursday, 27 January, 2022

Accidents on Waterways

3,600 killed in 6 yrs

3,600 killed in 6 yrs

Both the numbers of accidents and casualties on waterways across the country have been rising for the last six years, according to a study.

Experts said accidents and casualties are rising day by day due to the indifference of the authorities concerned to ensure safety on the waterways.  

They also blamed Bangladesh Water Transport Authority, Bangladesh Water Transport Corporation and the Department of Shipping for their indifference to ensuring the safety, especially fire safety of marine vessels and passengers. 

The accidents are taking valuable lives of passengers, as no owners or masters responsible for the accidents are punished.

Such accidents occur repeatedly as the recommendations of earlier probe committees and the High Court directives on ensuring safety on waterways are not implemented, experts said.

The study of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD) shows that at least 3,904 accidents took place on the waterways across the country from 2015 to 2020.

The accidents took away 3,596 lives and injured 2,565 persons in the period.

According to the data, the number of accidents was 418 in 2015 which stood at 425 in 2016. In 2017, it rose to 530 while it was508 in 2018 and the year 2019 saw 820 accidents.  The FSCD registered the highest number of accidents in 2020 which touched the 1,203 mark.

With the pace of accidents, the number of deaths also increased over the years as the FSCD registered 479 deaths in 2015 which showed a rising trend later. The number of deaths was 410 in 2016, 643 in 2017, 426 in 2018, and 685 in 2019 which jumped to 953 next year.

The study shows that the number of injured persons was also in the rising trend as it registered 226 cases in 2015 while 321 in 2016, 571 in 2017, 455 in 2018 and 668 in 2019. In 2020, 21 fire accidents took place in water transport while the county witnessed a devastating fire at MV Abhijan-10 on Friday which killed some 40 people and injured more than hundred.

Talking to the Daily Sun, former director-general of FSCD Ali Ahmed Khan said the authorities concerned are very indifferent to the fitness of marine vessels and fire safety arrangement inside the vessels while the owners have a tendency to violate the rules.

“The regulatory authorities are inspecting the fitness and safety issues of water vessels regularly. Besides, the owners have a tendency to manage the authority. The Department of Shipping must provide licence after proper inspection of the water vessels, otherwise it will be impossible to check the accidents,” he said.

He also said, “When a vessel is constructed, the issues of fire safety are not considered,  the vessels do not have fire alarm and hydrants system, and the staff has no training on how to respond in case of a fire incident.”

He blamed the lack of ‘goodwill’ of the authorities concerned to check the repetition of the accidents.

When asked, Director General of Department of Shipping AZM Jalaluddin said that there was a shortage of ship surveyors for ensuring fitness of ships.

“There is a host of reasons for increasing the accidents on waterways. Collision and fire are the major reasons. Despite shortage, there are some competent and international standard ship surveyors in our department. We are trying to recruit more. Besides, the Fire Service and Civil Defence cannot avoid responsibility to ensure fire safety in the ship and they should arrange regular drill.”