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Shitalakkhya launch capsize: Accused cargo vessel was unauthorized

  • Published at 04:30 pm April 7th, 2021
Shitalakkhya launch capsize
File photo: Rescue team pulling out the capsized launch which sank after colliding with a cargo vessel in the Shitalakkhya River on Sunday, April, 4, 2021 Dhaka Tribune

A case has been filed by the BIWTA over Sunday’s launch capsize on the Shitalakkhya River

Although the relevant authorities are yet to confirm it, unofficial sources have claimed that the cargo vessel responsible for the tragic accident at Pathorghat area of Narayanganj, on the Shitalakkhya River, was unauthorized.

Three probe bodies and River Police have failed to identify the cargo vessel despite four days after the accident having elapsed and despite video footage being there.

However, officials of the Department of Shipping, on condition of anonymity, said the accused cargo vessel was MV SKL-3 owned by Sheikh Sarhan Naser Tanmoy, a Bangladesh Awami League politician and member of parliament from Bagerhat 2.

The cargo vessel was on the river illegally as it had yet to receive clearance from the Department of Shipping.

On Sunday, passenger vessel ML Sabit Al Hasan sank after colliding with cargo ship MV SKL-3 due to the erratic movement of the latter, leaving at least 35 people dead.

According to the officials, MV SKL-3 got its registration on March 18 this year. The registration number is M-01-2643. But it did not obtain the survey clearance.

As per rules, vessels cannot operate until obtaining the survey clearance from the Department of Shipping. Vessels should be kept at the dockyard until getting the clearance.

Officials said SKL-3’s engine capacity is 1,635 horsepower, which is required to be operated by an inland marine engineer. However, according to the documents submitted by SK logistics, a master (first class) was prearranged to operate the ship.

Around 73 meters in length and 13.12 meters in width, the ship was built by Khan Jahan Ali Shipbuilders.        

Despite several attempts, Dhaka Tribune failed to contact the cargo vessel’s owner, MP Tanmoy, on Wednesday.

What officials say

“We still could not identify the accused cargo vessel. So, we are not concerned about MV SKL-3,” said Commodore AZM Jalal Uddin, director general of the Department of Shipping.

“However, we have searched for the name in our system to check if there was any licenced vessel with that name, but it didn’t match,” he told Dhaka Tribune.

While attending a program in Dhaka on Wednesday, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said: “We must identify the vessel responsible for the accident. As probe bodies are working on this, they will submit reports after concluding investigations. We will also confirm the punishment.”

Police not accepting launch authority’s case

A case has been filed by the BIWTA over Sunday’s launch capsize on the Shitalakkhya River.

However, the victim launch authority was yet to file a case with Bandar police station despite trying for three days.

Monzur Hossain, an official of the victim launch, said: “I have been visiting the police station for the last three days. When I go there, they tell me to go to the police outpost. When I go to the police outpost, they tell me to go to the police station.”

He said they want to file the case as they fear BIWTA could withdraw the case at any time.

He said Bandar police station Officer in-Charge (OC) Dipak Chandra Saha and a local leader were issuing threats that he should not file the case.

For his part, OC Dipak Chandra Saha said, “We have started investigations as BIWTA has filed the case. Now if the investigation officer of the case thinks that there is a need to take more cases, then the cases will be taken.”

When contacted, the investigating officer of the case, Inspector Yunus Munshi of Narayanganj Sadar river police station, said usually the victims file cases with local police station in this type of incidents.

He said: “If the launch authorities want, they can file a case with the local police station. However, it is not our responsibility to take the case.”

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