May 16, 2005


Yet another passenger ferry disaster in leaving more than 100 persons feared dead. If you look at the chronology of the disasters from 1986, you will see that the disasters are happening every year. The problem lies in licensing the makeshift ferries, which have poor structural designs and do not meet the safety standard. Although life-jackets are prescribed, they cannot be found in these ferries. Poor warning systems and overcrowding of ferries are also to blame.

Bangladesh has one of the largest water network in the world with a total number of about 700 rivers including tributaries with a total length of about 24,140 km. The ferries plying in these rivers provide cheap transportation to many villagers and poor people who live in remote areas, not accessible by road.

The transportation minister has been able to do nothing except giving compensation of a goat each for the poor victims families. The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has a development project for preventing the ferry (called launch) accidents. The project duration is from July 2004 -June 2006. But from the website it is evident that allocation for money is yet to been given for that project. How many more lives will it take for these people to take any action?


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