Staff Correspondent: Twenty-one citizens of different professions have demanded to increase the service quality in inland water transport sector and an end to various types of harassment to vessel owners. They also demanded to ensure transparency and accountability in the dredging of rivers and regular removal of silt.
They made these demands in a joint statement sent to the media yesterday.
The statement alleged that the owners were being harassed to get annual survey (fitness), route permit and timetable of passenger vessels. Due to these reasons, the launch owners have been complaining that unnecessary money is being spent at various stages. Apart from this, the security system and passenger service quality at different river port terminals and launch ghats are not satisfactory. Due to these reasons, passengers on the waterways have started to decrease, the statement said.
Citizens complain that several mega projects have been undertaken by the direction of prime minister to dig the big rivers to restore the disappeared waterways. But in most cases the desired success has not been achieved.
According to the statement, on October 2, 2018, the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the project of ‘Navigability Development and Restoration of the Old Brahmaputra, Dharla, Tulai and Punarbhaba Rivers’ at a cost of Tk 4,371 crore.
Although the work of the project started on schedule, no progress has been made as expected even after almost four years.
The civic group also complained that regular dredging (removal of sediment) in navigable preservation of waterways lacks transparency and accountability.
They said that due to the navigability crisis, the movement of large ships carrying passengers and goods is being disrupted on important waterways including Dhaka-Barisal. As a result, many launch and cargo ship owners are thinking of shutting down their business due to anger and frustration.
In the statement, 21 citizens have strongly demanded that information on river dredging and silt removal should be regularly published in the media, along with increasing the quality of services to solve the existing crisis.
The signatories of the statement are- Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) vice-president SM Najer Hossain, prominent children organizer and freedom fighter Nurur Rahman Selim, chief executive of Nagorik Uddog Zakir Hossain, general secretary of Udichi Shilpi Gosthi Amit Ranjan Dey, executive president of Green Club of Bangladesh (GCB) Haji Mohammad Shahid Mia, General Secretary of National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways Ashis Kumar Dey, member secretary of Safe Waterway Implementation Movement Aminur Rasul Babul, Coordinator of Sundarbans and Coastal Protection Movement Nikhil Chandra Bhadra, marine engineer Md. Abdul Hamid, Vice President of Dhaka Union of Journalist Maniklal Ghosh, Executive Director of Dip Unnoyan Sangstha and freedom fighter Rafiqul Alam, Convener of Sachetan Nagorik Samaj Shakila Parveen, Executive Director of Poverty Emulation Assistance Center for Everywhere (PEACE) Ifma Hussain, President of Alokit Garments Workers Federation Bappidev Barman, Bangladesh Hawkers Union General Secretary Shekender Hayat, Poet and Children’s Organizer Rajan Bhattacharya, Central Coordinator Janalok Rafiqul Islam Sujon, Joint Secretary of Dhaka North Nagorik Forum Mustafa Kamal Akand, Mukti Shikha convener Zihad Arif and old Dhaka Nagorik Uddog president Nazim Uddin.
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