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21 citizens demand responsibility for dredging and improved service on waterways

Twenty-one citizens of different professions demanded the improvement of the quality of service in the inland waterway transport sector and the end of various types of harassment against shipowners.

They also demanded to ensure transparency and accountability in the dredging of rivers and the regular removal of silt.

They made the demands in a joint statement sent to the media on Monday.

The statement alleged that owners were being harassed to obtain an annual (fitness) survey, route permit and passenger ship timetables. For these reasons, launch owners complained that unnecessary money was spent at various stages. Apart from this, the security system and the quality of passenger service in the various river port terminals and launch ghats are not satisfactory. For these reasons, the number of passengers on the waterways has started to decline, according to the statement.

Citizens complain that several mega-projects have been undertaken by the Prime Minister’s leadership to dig the great rivers in order to restore the disappeared streams. But in most cases, the expected success was not achieved.

According to the statement, on October 2, 2018, the National Economic Council (ECNEC) Executive Committee meeting approved the project of “Development and Restoration of Seaworthiness of Ancient Brahmaputra, Dharla, Tulai and Punarbhaba Rivers” at the cost of Tk 4,371 crore.

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Although the work on the project started on schedule, no progress has been made as planned, even after almost four years.

The civic group also complained that regular dredging (sediment removal) in the navigable preservation of waterways lacks transparency and accountability.

They said that due to the seaworthiness crisis, the movement of large vessels carrying passengers and cargo is disrupted on important waterways including Dhaka-Barisal. As a result, many launcher and freighter owners are considering closing their businesses due to anger and frustration.

In the statement, 21 citizens strongly demanded that information on river dredging and desilting be regularly published in the media, as well as improving the quality of services to solve the existing crisis.

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The signatories of the statement are – SM Najer Hossain, Vice President of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), prominent children’s organizer and freedom fighter Nurur Rahman Selim, Managing Director of Nagorik Uddog Zakir Hossain, Secretary General of ‘Udichi Shilpi Gosthi Amit Ranjan Dey, Director President of Green Club of Bangladesh (GCB) Haji Mohammad Shahid Mia, Secretary General of National Committee for Protection of Shipping, Roads and Railways Ashis Kumar Dey, Member Secretary of Safe Waterway Implementation Movement Aminur Rasul Babul, Coordinator of Sundarbans and Coastal Protection Movement Nikhil Chandra Bhadra, Marine Engineer Md. Abdul Hamid, Vice President of Dhaka Union of Journalist Maniklal Ghosh, Executive Director of Dip Unnoyan Sangstha and Freedom Fighter Rafiqul Alam, Head of Sachetan Nagorik Samaj Shakila Parveen, Executive Director of Poverty Emulation Assistance Center for Everywhere (PEACE ) Ifma Hussain, President Garment Workers Federation Alokit Bappidev Ba rman, Bangladesh Hawkers Union General Secretary Shekender Hayat, Poet and Children’s Organizer Rajan Bhattacharya, Central Coordinator Janalok Rafiqul Islam Sujon, Co-Secretary of Dhaka North Nagorik Forum Mustafa Kamal Akand, Mukti Shikha convener Zihad Arif and former Dhaka Nagorik President Uddog Nazim Uddin.