A probe committee formed after a ferry on Friday rammed a pillar of the under-construction Padma Bridge found that the master and quartermaster of the vessel were responsible for the mishap that left 20 people injured.
The four-member committee, which is expected to submit its report today, will recommend departmental action against the two employees of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC), said sources familiar with the development.
The committee will also recommend placing rubber tenders around the pillars of the bridge to reduce impact in case of such crashes, they added.
At least 20 people onboard the ferry were injured after the ferry heading towards Shimulia, Munshiganj, from Banglabazar, Madaripur, hit the pillar.
Thirty-eight vehicles and over 300 people were onboard at the time.
Shafiqul Islam, project director of Padma Multipurpose Bridge, told The Daily Star after the incident that no damage was apparently done to the pillar, but the officials were investigating.
He added that his department would write to the BIWTC to take the measures necessary to avoid any such incident in future.
Master of the ferry Abdur Rahman was suspended by the ferry services operator, BIWTC, soon after the incident.
BIWTC’s four-member probe committee is led by SM Ashiquzzaman, general manager (commerce) of BIWTC. The committee was asked to submit its report in three days. Besides, project officials of the Padma bridge filed a general diary with a local police station.
On Tuesday, another ferry hit another pillar of the bridge, which damaged the ferry.
The 6.15km bridge, which is expected to be open to traffic in June next year, is being constructed with a cost of more than Tk 30,000 crore.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, a member of the probe committee said the speed of the current at the particular spot was 3.5 nautical miles per hour (6.48kmph) at the time of the accident and the ferry was at 15-16kmph.
“The master and quartermaster should have been more careful. They failed to prove their skill in that situation,” the official said, wishing not to be named.
The master gives directions while the quartermaster operates the ferry.
Soon after the incident, Abdur Rahman, the master, claimed that the accident was caused by a mechanical error.
But the official said, “We did not find any major technical flaw in the ferry.”
The committee will recommend departmental action against Rahman and quartermaster Saiful Islam, he said.
Contacted, Probe committee chief Ashiquzzaman said his team was working on the report to submit it today.
He did not talk about the content of the report.
SHIPPING SECY BLAMES MASTER
“The master wasn’t careful. Such an accident could have been avoided if the master was careful,” Shipping Secretary Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury told our Munshiganj correspondent while visiting the scene.
Probe committee members, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Chairman Commodore Golam Sadeq, and BIWTC Director (finance) Shahinur Rahman Bhuiyan, accompanied the secretary.
Meanwhile, police yesterday questioned Abdur Rahman at Banglabazar terminal, said Miraj Hossain, officer-in-charge of Shibchar Police Station.
Our Munshiganj correspondent contributed to the report.