very year we see tragic launch accidents claiming hundreds of human lives. During 1999-2014 period, about 658 such accidents occurred with about 500 meeting their watery graves. About 1,500 people are still missing. Perhaps their bodies will never be retrieved.
All these riverine accidents occur due to bad weather, lack of signal, wrong design of launches and water boats without fitness, overloading with passengers, lack of life-saving equipment, negligence of duty and lack of punishment to the persons found responsible.
After each launch accident, we generally find our law enforcement authorities to be very busy in forming investigation committees in order to find out and give punishment to the launch owner for the accident. It is also true that the owner or his son or his daughter is also not always on the deck of the vessel for supervision. It is natural that an owner launches a commercial passenger vessel supposed to be run by trained personnel. Not all owners ride the buses that ply every now and then on Dhaka city roads.
It is unfortunate that the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) and the law-enforcement authority in the concerned launch terminals often go scot free when such accidents occur. They should also be punished. Every launch terminal is supposed to have the BIWTA employees and the law-enforcement agency personnel deputed to see which launches are leaving overloaded with passengers or whether the vessels are aware of bad weather or are without life-saving supports.
We feel if the concerned authority takes immediate action and give exemplary punishment after each accident, all associated with launches and their terminals (such as launch owner, BIWTA's authorised persons, law-enforcement personnel etc.) will be cautious in performing their duties. Thus we can save hundreds of human lives from premature deaths.