No one off-lim­its in in­ves­ti­ga­tion of ferry sink­ing: Sa­gaing min­is­ter

The Myanmar Times - - News - MAUNG ZAW maungzaw@mm­

NEI­THER reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties nor pub­lic of­fi­cials will be spared as the govern­ment pre­pares to take ac­tion against any­one whose con­duct is found to have con­trib­uted to the deadly Aung Soe Moe Kyaw 2 ferry sink­ing, which claimed the lives of at least 73 peo­ple on Oc­to­ber 15.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence in Monywa on Oc­to­ber 22, Sa­gaing Re­gion’s Min­is­ter for Elec­tric­ity, In­dus­try and Trans­porta­tion U Than Nyunt Win said all those with a share of cul­pa­bil­ity for the dis­as­ter would called to ac­count.

Sur­vivors and wit­nesses to the fa­tal sink­ing have al­leged that per­son­nel from In­land Wa­ter Trans­port and the Min­istry of Trans­port may be in some way re­spon­si­ble for the ac­ci­dent.

Speak­ing over the week­end, U Than Nyunt Win seemed to agree, stat­ing that he be­lieved reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties along the ferry’s route may not have con­ducted care­ful in­spec­tions be­fore the ac­ci­dent.

“Govern­ment de­part­ments are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for neg­li­gence, so we are cer­tainly tak­ing ac­tion against all re­spon­si­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions, from top to bot­tom,” he said.

The Aung Soe Moe Kyaw 2 was trav­el­ling be­tween Ho­ma­lin and Monywa town­ships when it is thought to have cap­sized af­ter strik­ing a rock in the Chind­win River near Mee Chaung Dwing vil­lage, in Kani town­ship.

Nearly 300 peo­ple were es­ti­mated to have been on­board, well above the 36 pas­sen­gers the ves­sel was li­censed to carry. A to­tal of 159 were res­cued, with 73 dead and seven peo­ple still miss­ing.

Of pub­lic au­thor­i­ties’ re­spon­si­bil­ity for the sink­ing, sur­vivor Ko Soe Min Thet said, “The In­land Wa­ter Trans­port depart­ment is sup­posed to check a ves­sel’s li­cence, its cap­tain’s li­cence and whether it is over­loaded or not. It is their duty. Many peo­ple

‘Ev­ery­body knows that the ferry ran with­out a li­cence de­spite the fact that peo­ple com­plained about it.’

U Soe Win Monywa res­i­dent

lost their lives in this tragic ac­ci­dent, so we want strong ac­tion to be taken.”

Monywa res­i­dent U Soe Win, who at­tended the press con­fer­ence, laid blame at the feet of reg­u­la­tors who al­lowed the ves­sel to op­er­ate with seem­ing im­punity for years, given that it was not cor­rectly li­censed.

“Why was the ferry al­lowed to run on the Chind­win River with­out a proper li­cence? Are there in­stances of bribe-tak­ing that we don’t know about? Ev­ery­body knows that the ferry ran with­out a li­cence de­spite the fact that peo­ple com­plained about it. Why didn’t any depart­ment take ac­tion?” he asked.

U Than Nyunt Win con­firmed that the ferry did not have the ap­pro­pri­ate li­cence to carry as many pas­sen­gers as it did, nor to op­er­ate the route it did.

De­spite the spec­u­la­tion sur­round­ing who is to blame for the dis­as­ter, re­gional ad­vo­cate gen­eral U Khin Maung Hla said no ac­tion would be taken un­til a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the ac­ci­dent was com­pleted.

“We can’t yet say who is re­spon­si­ble for this ac­ci­dent be­cause we are still in­ves­ti­gat­ing in ac­cor­dance with the law,” he said.

Four of the ves­sel’s crew mem­bers have been ar­rested and will face le­gal ac­tion, how­ever, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. The ferry’s owner and its cap­tain on the day of the ac­ci­dent re­main at large.

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