Since 1991, a total of 570 vessels have sunk in rivers around the country
Altogether 3,654 people lost their lives in accidents related to inland water vessels across the country in the last 29 years.
The fate of 489 victims has remained unknown as their bodies were never found, according to government statistics.
Since 1991, a total of 570 vessels have sunk in rivers across Bangladesh. Of them, 236 were passenger vessels and 146 were cargo vessels.
The latest such accident took place early on Monday when the launch ML Morning Bird was hit by another and bigger launch, Moyur-2, leaving 34 dead.
The country experienced the greatest number of accidents in a single year in 2004 when 41 vessels, both passenger-carrying and goods-laden, capsized in the country’s rivers.
However, the most fatal year for the waterways was 2003, during which 464 people lost their lives, according to data from the Department of Shipping.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Commodore Syed Ariful Islam, director general of the Department of Shipping, stated that according to primary investigation by the department, the latest accident occurred due to the negligence of the launch drivers.
According to sources, around 1,500 cases filed over incidents of accidents on the nation’s waterways are still pending with the marine court due to a slow process of trial.
Moreover, around 50 of these cases, which have made the headlines in past years, are yet to see the light of day.
Contacted by Dhaka Tribune, Advocate Jahangir Alam, said: “These cases are not getting verdicts on time as the owners of the vessels are disrupting trial proceedings through filing writ petitions with the High Court.
“Meanwhile, regular hearings are being interrupted by the absence of court officials and witnesses. In some instances, the parties involved opt for out-of-court settlements. All these together are making the whole process lengthier.”
Denying charges of negligence by prosecution lawyers in such cases, Pervin Sultana, a public prosecutor at the marine court in Dhaka, claimed that the accused in such incidents were getting punished in 95% of the cases.
“We are trying to dispose of these cases on time but are being delayed because of witnesses not appearing in court,” she added.