Despite a seven month ban on taking long sea routes during the stormy season, unsafe water transports including passenger launches, trawlers and speedboats continue plying the ‘danger zone’ of river estuaries in the southern region and coastal areas of Bangladesh.
A ban on navigating 3000 kms long sea routes has been imposed from March 15 to October 15 this year and is an extension of the ban imposed by the country’s Director- ate of Sea Transportation in 2000 against the backdrop of several fatal launch and trawler accidents.
Locals complain that the ban which was aimed at minimizing loss of life in the region vulnerable to cyclone and tidal surges has become virtually ineffective as the authorities have failed to arrange sufficient safe vessels like sea trucks or those having sea survey fitness certificates during the long ban period.
In absence of safe water transportation in the island areas, several unsafe motor launches and vessels and a large number of unregistered trawlers and speedboats without any fitness certificate and route permit are reported to regularly ply the coastal waters.
On the other hand, toxic waste from tanneries continues to pollute rivers in Bangladesh, posing a serious threat to human health as relocation of the factories is caught in a bureaucratic tangle. Some of these tanneries are reported to produce some 20,000 cubic meters of toxic waste laden with chromium and at least 30 other toxins every day. The toxic water results in skin diseases and also puts at risk the already unsafe inland water transportation system in the country.