The ferry had been in service since 1980
The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) has formed a seven-member probe committee to investigate the capsize of the RoRo ferry Amanat Shah in the Padma River at Paturia ferry terminal in Manikganj on Wednesday.
Officials said ferries usually stay in operation for 20 years, but the RoRo ferry bought from Denmark had been running since 1980.
When contacted, BIWTC Chairman Tajul Islam told Dhaka Tribune: “We have formed a high-level committee to investigate this matter. Ferries don’t usually capsize like that, so we have formed the committee with experts from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).”
The committee will be led by Shipping Ministry Additional Secretary Sultan Abdul Hamid, and includes an ICT expert from BIWTA, an examiner from the Department of Shipping, an associate professor of the naval architecture and marine engineering department of BUET and three other relevant officials.
The BIWTC chairman confirmed that the ferry had been bought from Denmark in 1980 and that its engine had undergone modifications.
“The normal lifespan of a RoRo ferry is 20 years, but they can easily keep running by modifying the engine if the body is still seaworthy,” he said.
Jahangir Alam, senior public relation officer of the Ministry of Shipping, said the probe committee has been asked to submit its report within seven working days.
When contacted Shipping Ministry Additional Secretary Sultan Abdul Hamid said they would be able to say what happened with the ferry after visiting the location.
The vehicle-laden ferry capsized around 9:45am on Wednesday, after the vessel had docked at terminal No 5, officials said. The ferry was on its way to Aricha from Rajbari’s Daulatdia ghat when it sank at Paturia.
Most of the passengers managed to swim to shore and no casualties have been reported yet.
The ferry had been carrying 17 heavy vehicles and at least 16 motorcycles, and only three vehicles had been unloaded when the vessel capsized, according to witnesses.
The salvage vessel Hamza was on site and participating in the rescue efforts. Officials were unsure whether the 60-ton-capacity salvage vessel would be able to bring up the nearly 400-ton capsized ferry.