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16th-Aug-2014

Why owner only, why not officials, even the Minister?

By Editorial Desk

It has become common knowledge that over a hundred and twenty people lost their lives during the Pinak-6 launch capsize in the Padma River on the way from Kawrakandi (Madaripur) to Mawa (Munshigonj). The public witnessed that how the BIWTA failed to make a concrete difference in saving the lives of the people during Eid holiday travels. Shipping Ministry surely cannot evade responsibility for the dismal failure of the officials.
The manhunt for the owner of Pinak-6, Abu Bakar Siddique, was concluded when he was arrested by RAB officials from Chittagong. Everything has been done by superior police– the RAB. Our regular police cannot arrest even a helpless launch owner. It is unbelievable.  
According to reports Abu Bakar denied his involvement and blamed the BIWTA who were supposed to be in control of launch operation for 10 days before and after Eid. According to him the BIWTA were aware about the overloading of passengers but still chose to take on more than the safety limit. Even though the owner wanted to shrug off his responsibility, he is still accountable for the tragic deaths of so many people as he failed to control his employees who were in charge of Pinak-6 if the papers about fitness of the launch were not right.
Over 4,420 people died, 520 people were injured and 400 people remained missing in more than 550 passenger launch accidents that took place in last 38 years, including the latest launch capsize. Of those, around 1,960 persons died and 176 persons went missing in the last decade, according to the official statement of the Department of Shipping and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA). According to the experts and officials concerned, gross negligence of the authorities in ensuring safety measures, awarding licenses everything is right if concerned officials can be rightly bribed. Abu Bakar also alleged that he also had to bribe. The authorities are expected to be honest and efficient so that the passengers do not have to worry about their safety.
 Between January 2002 and July 2013, only five to seven probe reports were made public following some major river mishaps. Almost all the recommendations made by those committees towards putting an end to such loss of lives remain unimplemented. According to the statistics of the government, the number of deaths was only 29 in five accidents in 1977, after the Independence of Bangladesh.
The problem is that the government servants forget that they are public servants to serve people. The concerned Minister also feels no responsibility for his inability to run the Ministry. He will not resign, and the Prime Minister also will not sack him.
The fact of the matter is that the people who lost their lives for gross negligence of the authorities have been murdered. The vessel did not sink accidentally. Not only the owner of the launch, the officials easily identifiable for negligence must all be tried for murder.  Let the court of law, in whatever state it exists, decide.