• Monday, Aug 03, 2020
  • Last Update : 05:38 pm

Buriganga launch capsize: Probe finds Mayur-2 crew intentionally steered recklessly

  • Published at 02:19 pm July 7th, 2020
File photo: Rescue team recovering bodies from Buriganga River on Monday, June 29, 2020 Md Manik/Dhaka Tribune

Final probe report by August 17

The probe committee has initially come to the conclusion that the crew of the larger Mayur-2 intentionally steered recklessly and collided with the Morning Bird, leading to the death of 34 people when the smaller launch capsized on June 29, a top official of the Shipping Ministry told Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday.

On condition of anonymity, the shipping ministry official said the crew of the Mayur-2 were steering recklessly because they wished to teach the launch owner a lesson after having become angry with him over an incident in the morning.

“The Mayur-2 was supposed to anchor at Lalkuthi ghat on the Buriganga at 11am, but the launch owner forced the launch master to go there an hour earlier. As a result, the launch master and other operators were angry with the owner and started to steer recklessly with the aim of teaching him a lesson,” the source added.

“The probe report identified the capsize as an intentional incident,” they further said.

No one from the ministry was willing to discuss the probe report on the record, as the investigation into the launch capsize is still ongoing.

Earlier on Tuesday afternoon, the Ministry of Shipping arranged a press briefing at the secretariat to unveil the initial probe report on the launch capsize that took place near Sadarghat on the Buriganga River. Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Chairman Commodore Golam Sadeq was present at the briefing.

At the beginning of the briefing, Shipping Ministry Secretary Mesbah Uddin Chowdhury said: “The Mayur-2 launch first hit the Morning Bird from behind and then hit it again in the middle, which caused the launch to capsize in the Buriganga.”State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury addresses a briefing at secretariat on July 7, 2020 | Dhaka Tribune

State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said the final investigation report on the launch capsize would be available by August 17.

He added: “We are not disclosing details of the launch capsize right now because police are still investigating the matter. Our comments may influence the investigation.”  

In response to a question, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said: “If it is found that the incident was  deliberate murder, then the case will be shifted under Section 302 of the Penal Code.”

Secretary to the Shipping Ministry Mesbah Uddin Chowdhury read out the 20-point recommendations of the probe committee at the briefing.

The recommendations

  1. Idle berthing should be moved 7-8 kilometers upriver and 3-4 kilometers downriver of Sadarghat. No water transport can be anchored away from pontoons. All shipyards and dockyards should be removed from near Sadarghat.
  2. Ferry ghats should not be allowed near Sadarghat Terminal; existing boat landing stations may be transferred upriver to Old Town’s Wiseghat.
  3. 360 degree angle CCTV cameras should be placed on every launch and walkie-talkie communication systems should be introduced on launches gradually.
  4. Every vessel should submit a  voyage declaration form before leaving pontoons.  
  5. Operation of waterways transport without fitness certificates should be stopped and every transport will need to ensure sufficient numbers of life jackets for passengers. 
  6. Speed limits for vessels should be fixed and a control tower is needed at Sadarghat to monitor speed.  
  7. Initiatives to introduce electro hydraulic steering systems on vessels, instead of mechanical steering, are needed.
  8. A bridge control system needs to be introduced on passenger vessels, instead of main engine local control systems.
  9. Sunken deck launches have to be done away with gradually. 
  10. Gangways or bridges need to be installed to ensure passenger safety.
  11. The number of pontoons at Sadarghat needs to be increased.
  12. Activities of mobile courts need to be increased to secure waterways transport.
  13. Excess ticket sales at launches have to stop for all seasons, including during festivals. Tickets can be sold online if needed.
  14. River law needs to be modernized by imposing more punishments and charges.
  15. The fitness certificate giving system should be stricter.
  16. More deck and engine personnel training centres are needed.
  17. The strength of the river police should be increased from 9 members to at least 25 members. 
  18. Initiatives to install vessel traffic systems in waterways are needed. 
  19. Search and rescue plans need to be initiated for a modern river traffic system.
  20. A research institution needs to be formed to analyze waterway disasters. 

Regarding the recommendations, State Minister Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said: “We have already implemented some of the recommendations from previous probe committees. Now, we will gradually implement these 20 recommendations. 

At least 34 people died after the Mayur-2 hit and sank another launch in the Buriganga on June 29. The following day, Shamsul Alam, sub-inspector (SI) of Sadarghat river police station, filed a case with Keraniganj Dakshin Police Station.

The seven accused in the case are Moyur-2 owner Mosaddek Hanif Swad (33), his employee Abul Bashar Molla (65), launch master Jakir Hossain (54), engine operator Shipon Hawlader (45), Shakil Hasan (28), Sukani Nasir Mridha (40) and Ridoy (24) 

Although the Mayur-2 launch is in police custody, the owner and launch master have managed to flee.

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