The Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity has demanded punishment of the culprits and compensation of Tk 10 lakh for the families of the 26 people killed and five injured in a collision between a sand-laden bulkhead and a speedboat in the Padma river of Madaripur's Shibchar on Monday morning.
The organisation's Secretary General, Mohammad Mozammel Haque Chowdhury, made the demand in a statement sent to the media on Monday.
He said, "The wharf leaseholders, the naval police, the Coast Guard, the BIWTA, the Department of Maritime Transport – no one can deny their failure and responsibility for letting speedboats with so many passengers operate amid the lockdown announced by the government to prevent the transmission of coronavirus."
Mozammel demanded a murder case be filed against officials from these institutions in charge of the ghat, for their failure and laxity resulting in the accident.
Saying that the waterways of our country are becoming unsafe day by day, he continued, "Although the government has invested thousands of crores of taka in the development of waterways, the safety of passengers is being neglected due to indifference and negligence of the concerned institutions. In such a catastrophic season of Kalboishaki and with a lockdown in place, a speedboat with a capacity of 8-10 passengers carrying 30-35 passengers without life jackets has become the picture of such neglect on waterways across the country."
He demanded that Tk 10 lakh be paid to each family of the people killed and Tk 5 lakh to each of the injured.
According to Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity statistics based on news reports published in dailies since 2018, there have been 601 major and minor accidents on the waterways which killed 773, injured 912, and 1166 went missing. According to statistics, the 159 waterway accidents in 2018 killed 126, injured 234, and 387 went missing. In 2019, a total of 219 were killed, 282 were injured, and 375 went missing in 203 boat accidents. Last year during the pandemic, 313 people were killed, 342 injured, and 371 were missing in 163 boat accidents.
In January this year, 37 people were killed, 13 injured, and 11 went missing in 17 accidents. In February, 25 were killed, 19 injured, and 17 went missing in 15 boat accidents. In March, 15 people were killed, 13 injured, and three went missing in 10 boat accidents. In April during the lockdown, 38 died, nine were injured, and two went missing in 14 accidents.