by Farid Hossain, CJA Bangladesh president
Ferry safety is a major public interest subject in Bangladesh, where rivers criss-cross the delta nation. Ferries and country boats are the country’s major modes of transportation, with up to 10,000 vessels carrying passengers and cargoes through more than 5,000-kilometers of river routes. Sadly, accidents blamed on faulty vessels, unskilled operation and lax rules are common.
One such disaster that hasn’t been forgotten occured July 8, 2003 when a ferry sank in a river near the capital, Dhaka, killing more than 800 people. Since then, July 8 has been Safe Ferry Travel Day, and to mark it the Commonwealth Journalists Association, Bangladesh held a seminar on the topic.
The CJA hosted the seminar in association with Safe River Route Movement, a NGO in Bangladesh. Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan MP attended the seminar as chief guest, while Hassan Shahriar, President Emiritus of CJA International Committee spoke as special guest.
Hassan Shahriar told the seminar that the media can play an important role in raising awareness among both operators and passengers of ferries about safety and discipline. He said overcrowding, which is one of the key cause of ferry accident, is blamed both on passengers and operators. Passengers often ignore warnings, while ferry operators don’t enforce the rules vigorously
Presiding over the well-attended seminar was Farid Hossain, president of CJA-Bangladesh and vice-president of CJA International. Moderator was Shymol Dutta, a member of the CJA International Executive Committee. Also attending from the CJA-Bangladesh were Zaglul Ahmed Chowdhury and Shafiqul Bashar Chapal.
The guests appreciated CJA’s involvement in such a public interest issue.