The Chattogram Zilla Parishad has allowed the operations of passenger on the Kumira-Guptachhara route violating an order of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA).
The BIWTA order restricting movement of passenger speedboats during rough season was issued on 25 April which is to remain effective until 15 October.
The BIWTA Deputy Director (Port and Transport department) Noyon Shil on 25 April issued the order to ensure safety of the passengers like in other parts of the country.
The Zilla Parishad Chief Executive Officer Shabbir Iqbal issued the order allowing operation of passenger speedboats on the Kumira-Guptachhara route on Thursday and sent it to the ghat lessee SM Anwar Hossain. The copy of the letter was sent to two lawmakers of Sandwip and Sitakunda, Chattogram deputy commissioner, Bangladesh coast guard zonal commander, UNOs of Sandwip and Sitakunda, acting OC of the naval police fari (Kumira) except for the regulator of the river foreshore use and water transport BIWTA.
The BIWTA alleged that the order of the Zilla Parishad allowing operation of speedboats in such a risky season like monsoon was in violation of the rules and laws.
The BIWTA has restricted speedboat movement on that route after an accident on 20 April in which four people died. They had also filed cases against unfit speedboats operating on the Kumira-Guptachhara route on different occasions.
The BIWTA expressed its dissatisfaction over the issue saying no government agency can impose a new order when an order of another agency is already in place. Although the BIWTA is the regulator of water transport movement across the country legally, Zilla Parishad has taken the matter to a conflicting level by issuing an order to operate speedboats during the monsoon even without any discussion with BIWTA.
When contacted, CEO Shabbir Iqbal said that speedboats used to operate on the route before which has been resumed now to facilitate passenger movement. There is no deviation of rules or laws, he added.
Despite frequent attempts to contact the BIWTA Chairman Commodore Golam Sadeq, he was found unreachable.
Seeking anonymity, a BIWTA officer told The Business Standard that four people died drowning during squally weather on 20 April while travelling on a speedboat. As a result, the speedboat movement was restricted on the Kumira-Guptachhara ghat like in other parts of the country. The Zilla Parishad's order to allow plying of speedboats is like violation of the state law, he added.