We are saddened by the news of yet another boat accident that has left at least 10 passengers dead and several more missing. In the past several months a number of similar accidents took place, but it seems none is concerned about it.
The wooden-made boats are the most popular mode of communication in Bangladesh which is criss-crossed by more 450 rivers, but it appears these incidents are forgotten soon after.
The breaking news on television and leads or second leads in newspapers with prominently displayed photographs. Then, news reports of grieving family members of the dead. The story ends there.
Although river vessel accidents have come down in recent years due to close monitoring of passenger ferries and cargo vessels, but engine-propelled boats remain unregulated causing a large number of deaths every year.
It is a difficult task to keep tab of dinghy boats to large ones nationwide, but Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNO) maybe tasked to do the root-level estimation and then formulate safety laws.
The boats do not have minimum safety or survival equipment and it is time to pay attention in formulating ways to make journeys by this wooden-made vessels manned by “majhis (boatman)” who usually take up the profession from one generation to another.
Training these “majhis” are also essential and an age limit must be made mandatory as even teenagers randomly work as “majhis.”
We want safety but at the same time we insist that no taxes be imposed in the name of laws to regulate boat operations as they are owned by small businessmen and “majhis” are among the poorest in the community.