The onus on fully training up workers, so they can get proper licenses, lies on the vessel owners
As details emerge on the recent launch disaster on the Buriganga, grief, quite rightly, has turned into anger. How many more lives must be lost to incompetent hands before the authorities wake up and take action against operators who so flagrantly flout the rules?
On Monday, two launches collided on the Buriganga, killing 34 people. This loss of life was entirely preventable, and in no way can the launch operators dodge responsibility for this horrific incident. The drivers of the two launches, in this case, were not only unskilled and unfit to operate launches, but did not have licenses. There are no two ways about it -- this was a clear breach of the rules.
What is more alarming is that only one-third of deck masters and engine drivers are said to have actual licenses, which means every time people get on these launches, they are putting their lives in the hands of incompetent operators.
As Md Manjurul Kabir, chief engineer and ship surveyor at the Department of Shipping has pointed out, amateur navigation was to blame. Compounding the problem is our inadequate and outdated training. The onus on fully training up workers, so they can get proper licenses, lies on the vessel owners.
We cannot keep letting these horrific accidents happen on our waterways with such disturbing regularity. Since 1991, some 570 vessels have sunk in rivers across Bangladesh. An estimated 3,654 people have died in water vessel-related accidents in this time. In no civilized country should such a death toll be acceptable, especially when it is entirely preventable.
Enough is enough, it is time to throw the book at operators that flout the rules, and apply stringent safety standards to the operation of these vessels. We cannot gamble with people’s lives like this.