Space For Rent

Space For Rent
Sunday, January 04, 2015, Poush 21, 1421, Robiul Awal 12, 1436 Hijr

2,500 vessels rest in riverbed
Published : Sunday, 4 January, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 15

Mamunur Rashid
Some 2,500 passenger and cargo ships that were sunken into rivers in the last few decades could not be rescued due to technical problem and lack of equipment, according to BIWTA officials.
Consequently, the navigation, they said, has become unsafe as vessels sailing across the rivers may come into contact with the sunken vessels, also posing threat to biodiversity.
The government, however, has already taken up a Tk 11,000 crore project to dredge some 53 rivers throughout the country. 
BIWTA data show 3,239 vessels sank between 1947 and May 2014, leaving 17,779 passengers dead and 20,687 injured.
Two rescue ships Hamzah and Rushtam have so far rescued 486 vessels. Besides, the riverside people salvaged 297 through their united efforts. 
As these salvage ships do not have the capability of elevating a vessel weighing beyond 60-tonne vessel, many vessels remained sunken.
Meanwhile, many hidden shoals have already emerged at the point of these sunken vessels, hindering movement of other vessels.
The inability to salvage three cargoes-one laden with oil that sank in the Shela river on December 9, 2014 and the two others carrying cement that sank on September 30 in the same year -from the channel of Mongla Port has impacted the biodiversity, as those cause water pollution.
Of late, the government has already decided to purchase two salvage vessels worth Tk 356.65 crore to raise rescue efficiency, a Shipping Ministry official said.
These two vessels will have the capability of elevating 250 tonnes each.
Also, two training centres will be set up to cater to the need of skilled manpower to face the situation stemming from sinking of vessels.
The government has already established four marine academies and one university, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Marine University.
"The government should put all its efforts on raising capacity for salvaging sunken ships," insisted a former BIWTA director, wishing not to be named.
 "Rivers will get back navigability once the sunken vehicles are recovered," said Dr Tarique Ali, an associate professor at the  Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
Meanwhile, a BIWTA survey has revealed that inefficiency of masters and assistants has led to occurrence of 34 per cent  river accidents. It also pointed to natural calamities as reasons for 25 per cent accidents, overloading of passengers for 20 per cent accidents and faulty vessels for 13 per cent accidents.
The survey also blamed passengers' ignorance for 2.32 per cent river accidents. Insufficient marking also caused 1 per cent accidents, it further revealed.  
According to the survey report, in 1994, a passenger launch sank near the Meghna-Dakatia estuary in Chandpur, leaving 140 passengers dead and many injured. The launch could not be rescued yet.
Six hundred twenty-five passengers died in a launch capsize in the same district in 2003.   At least 20 people died as a launch sunk in the Ramdabad River at Golachipa in Patuakhali district on May 3, 2014 and 250 passengers died when M V Miraz sank near Munshiganj on May 15 last year.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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