Mike MacEacheran, a travel journalist opines that the world most dangerous waterways lies in Bangladesh, a south-east Asian developing country. Bangladesh is drenched with 8,046 km of rivers and waterways where Bangladesh inland Water Transport Authority in short BIWTA, is the authority who controls the overall inland water transportation sector in Bangladesh. This organization is also responsible for all kinds of management development and maintenance of inland water transport system.
Bangladesh is also a riverine country where you will find 700 rivers including tributaries flow. But still Bangladesh has some nearly century old paddlewheel steamers for its transportation. Dhaka is its capital from where you need about 20 hours of journey to the country’s sea cost areas like Sundarbans which is the world’s largest mangrove forest.
Because of so many rivers in Bangladesh, ferries are a major form of waterways transportation. Most often these ferries are extremely dangerous because of overload passengers, operate in rough weather, non-skilled operators, mechanical faults etc and every year hundreds of people die in such accidents.
At present about only four century old paddlewheel steamers left in the country and they are- the PS Mahsud, PS Lepchaand, PS Tern and PS Ostrich. Generally they are called rockets because once in a time they were the country’s fastest vessels.
Among these risky vessels PS Ostrich is not only a vessel but also a marvel of preservation that was built in 1929 in the dockyard of Clydebank, Scotland. Little among those Scottish shipyard workers know, the ship would still be a lifeline in waterways of Bangladesh more than 85 years later. But the people still enjoy their journey and think them it is just not a journey but feeling like sailing an antique and journey in the Titanic, expressed by a passenger.
As there is huge population in the country during any festival time like Eid, Pujha etc these water-vehicles get over crowded and randomly meet with the accident. The problem is that Bangladesh is economically closely related with water transportation. And hardly there is any alternatives that could transport people instead of water-ways.
Padma and Meghna are the two big rivers of Bangladesh which widely known for frequent boat crashes and ferry accidents. For the foreign travelers, such journey would be romantic trip- a trip into a half-drowned world exist to the great mangrove forests of the Sundarbans, the country’s last bastion of the world famous Royal Bengal tiger.