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Take strong step to save shipping sector from the grasp of mafia

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06th-Aug-2018       
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SPEAKERS at a discussion in the city on Saturday demanded to uproot mafia syndicates from Shipping Sector for developing a safe water transport system across the country, as per a media report. Manzurul Ahsan Khan, a veteran politician and also a labour leader, said that, similar to the Road Transport sector, the country's Shipping Sector has been controlled by mafia syndicates.
Around 87.80 million passengers are carried through the riverine route every year (Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority). This important mode of transport is ridden with tragic disasters every year, incurring a heavy toll of human lives. Around 4420 people have died and 400 have gone missing in 550 launch disasters since 1976 (Department of Shipping data) up to 2014 but the actual numbers may be around 7000 dead and 700 missing.
Reasons for passenger vessel disasters include the irresponsibility of concerned authority and erratic behaviours of owners in a captive market.
Collisions occur because the inexperienced operators try to go faster by overtaking other vessels. The passenger vessel owners, in their quest for maximum profit, tend to overload by doubling or tripling the actual carrying capacity which causes the vessel to become unstable. Several accidents have been happened due to inclement weather.
Recommendations include checking overloading onboard vessels at starting points as well as en route. Unfit and risk prone passenger vessels may be identified and removed from service encouraging new entrepreneurs to build new and safe water vessels. The concerned authority has to ensure that passenger vessels are equipped with necessary navigational and life saving equipment before getting fitness certificate. Central Board of Recruitment for vessel operators may be established under the government control to ensure educated and skilled marine crew for all vessels.
For all of this to occur political will and strong governance is needed--the problem is whether the government can do it.

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