The National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways (NCPSRR) Wednesday urged the government to ensure transparency and accountability in river dredging and regular removal of silt from waterways.
"People have the right to know about the development activities of any government organisation. So, all relevant information, including financial expenditure and name of private contractors, and the progress of river dredging and silt removal under different projects will have to be published on the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) website by the 10th day of every month," the NCPSRR said.
On October 2, 2018, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the "Navigability development and reclamation of Old Brahmaputra, Dharla, Tulai and Punarbhaba Rivers" project, whose deadline will expire on June 30, 2024.
The project was undertaken to ensure smooth and safe plying of vessels on the rivers.
But the BIWTA could not meet the expected progress goals of the Tk4,371 crore project in the last four years.
"There is a timeframe for completing the dredging through private contractors. But the BIWTA made unnecessary delays in the tender process. So, the eligible private contractors are failing to get their work done on time," NCPSRR President Mohammad Shahid Mia and General Secretary Ashis Kumar Dey said.
"Also, there are allegations that in some cases some preferred contractors got the work orders, raising questions about the transparency and accountability of the project," the National Committee said.
About the ongoing dredging of waterways and removal of silt under the BIWT's development and conservation sector, the NCPSRR said: "It is crucial to give priority to important waterways to deepen them to ensure smooth navigation for passenger and cargo ships, but it is not being done."
"Vessel owners and workers have been complaining for a long time that ships are not plying smoothly due to lack of navigability in waterways."