Travellers on Aricha-Kazirhat and Paturia-Daulatdia river routes continue riding trawlers to cross the rivers Jamuna and Padma risking their lives as the authorities concerned took no effective steps to stop the engine-run boats meant for fishing.
People, mainly from Pabna, Rajbari and Manikganj, use the small vessels, which have no approval for carrying passengers, for years on the routes to save money and time, said passengers and trawler drivers.
Trawlers often face accidents and even capsize in the rivers causing loss of lives and property, they admitted.
Passengers said the people of Bera upazila and adjacent areas of Pabna and Shadzadpur upazila and adjacent areas of Sirajganj used trawlers between Aricha and Kazirhat terminals to avoid traffic jam on highway.
The passengers said launches charge Tk 100 per person, speed boats charge Tk 200 and the trawlers charge only Tk 50 to cross the route.
They said, at Kazirhat end, they need to walk or ride a rickshaw-van to reach the launch or speed boat jetties that are at least two kilometres away from their localities.
On the other hand, the people of Goalunda upazila and adjacent areas of Rajbari use the risky trawlers to travel between Paturia and Daulatdia terminals finding trawlers more convenient as it saves their time and do not have to wait for hours to get on and off the ferries and launches.
Cops deployed at Aricha terminal said they, despite the August 28 trawler capsize that left three people missing and 15 others injured, got no instruction to stop the engine-run boats this time, but years ago they had such an instruction.
Trawlers not only carry people, they also drop passengers at nearby places to unload their goods, according to the passengers and officials of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority.
The missing people in August 28 capsize are Noor Box, 50, of Kadamtala village under Ataikola upazila, Mehgla, 8, of Najirganj village and Md Masum, 25, of Radhanagar village under Sujanagar upazila of Pabna.
They were yet to be rescued, said Mizanur Rahman, deputy assistant director of Manikganj Fire Service and Civil Defence on Friday.
The BIWTA assistant director (traffic) for Aricha office, Faridul Islam, said about 40 trawlers were in service on Aricha-Kazirhat and Paturia-Daulatdia routes for carrying passengers, which was totally illegal and risky.
Trawlers often face fatal accidents involving passengers as the boats do not keep lifesaving equipment and their drivers have no licence for operating such a vessel, he said adding that his department had written to the deputy commissioners and police superintendents of Manikganj, Rajbari and Pabna districts to take necessary steps to stop the risky vessels.
He stressed the need for building public awareness to reduce the use of trawlers.
Manikganj police superintendent Rifat Rahman Shamim said BIWTA had much to do than writing letters to the higher authorities.
‘BIWTA is the legal authority to oversee it. Police can help them if they need support,’ he added.
Manikganj deputy commissioner SM Ferdaus said they would take action in this regard.
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