Illegal ships continue to ply the Bhola-Lakshmipur route, ignoring the risks
Dangerous ferries and speedboats continue to carry passengers up the mighty Meghna River from Bhola’s Ilishaghat, flouting a government ban and ignoring the risk of fatal accidents on the waterways.
On Friday morning, the Coast Guard seized four trawlers from the Meghna River on the Bhola-Lakshmipur route in the Ilisha Ferry Ghat area.
Since Eid-ul-Fitr, 11 trawlers and speedboats have been seized. But the number is ridiculous. Residents said a number of speedboats and at least 30 to 40 trawlers had left Ilishaghat since morning with passengers.
Large numbers of people invaded Ilishaghat from Eid to return to their workplace from Bhola. Although four ferries operate on the route from Ilishaghat to Bhola-Ladhipur, passenger pressure is massive and people pay little or no attention to health rules in the face of the risk of coronavirus transmission.
But the navigability crisis is forcing ferries to depend on the tides to operate on this route, further complicating the situation.
An unscrupulous union of the Ilisha Ferry Ghat tenant group is taking advantage of the situation and transporting passengers using trawlers and speedboats – in violation of a government directive. They charge 300 Tk instead of 100 Tk. These trawlers or speedboats do not have life jackets or buoys.
Sources from BIWTA have said that transporting passengers in any unlicensed vessel in the Meghna River danger zone in Bhola from March 15 to October 15 is prohibited. But illegal ships ignore the embargo.
Ilisha Ferry and Launch Ghat is close to the Naval Police Station and Ilisha Police Investigation Center. Coast Guard Petty Officer Md Shah Alam told reporters that the passage of passengers aboard trawlers during the ongoing lockdown was completely illegal. In addition, trawlers are also prohibited in the Meghna River Danger Zone.
Passenger transport on trawlers and speedboats continues despite regular patrols by the Naval Police and the East Ilisha Investigation Center police.
Mohammad Saeed Hossain, head of Bhola East Naval Police Station Ilisha Sadar, said they were taking measures to prevent people from crossing the river in an unsafe manner.