State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury has said that Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the pathfinder in the country's shipping system.
Regarding Bangabandhu's contribution to the development of waterways, he said that Bangabandhu understood that it is not possible to remove silt and dredge of the rivers on regular basis with a single dredger named 'Khanak' left by Pakistan after being defeated in the War of Liberation.
In the post-liberation period, he focused on excavation despite many challenges during the reconstruction of the war-torn country, the state minister added.
He further added that during his brief tenure after liberation, Bangabandhu procured seven highly developed dredgers from the Netherlands for the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) in two phases, which are still operational in BIWTA's fleet.
Through loop carting dredging, a 6.5-kilometer (km) connection canal was excavated from Ghashiakhali in Morrelganj upazila of Bagerhat district to Betibunia at Rampal upazila of the same district as per the direction of Bangabandhu during that time, he said.
In 1974, the 31km long Mongla-Ghashiakhali river channel in Bagerhat became popular, he added.
The channel is recognized as an international waterway as it is included in the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade between Bangladesh and India.
Bangabandhu also inaugurated the dredging activities of Nagarbari-Aricha and Nagarbari-Daulatdia waterways at the end of 1973, he said.
Regarding Bangabandhu's contribution to the development of the education system in the marine sector, Khalid also said that the Bangladesh Marine Fisheries Academy (BMFA) was established in Chattogram in 1973 during Bangabandhu's regime with the financial and technical support of the then Soviet Republic.
The main objective of establishing this academy was to create necessary manpower with technical knowledge for collecting fish from the sea and deep sea and to meet the needs of the country and earn remittance by exporting the skilled manpower abroad with the degree obtained from the academy, he said.
Bangabandhu also established the Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC) in 1972 aiming to operate seagoing vessels in its own fleet.
The BSC plays an important role in importing goods from abroad by sea and exporting goods from Bangladesh to foreign countries, he said.