Are ferry accidents preventable?

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  • Aye Min Soe
  • More than five months after the deadly ferry accident in the Chindwin River, another ferry accident happened on 7th April in a river in Pathein, Ayeyawady Region, killing at least 20 passengers.
    In the Ayeyawady Delta, people often travel and transport goods by boat because of the low cost and the inaccessibility of many areas by road.
    Ferry accidents are fairly common in Myanmar. Poor maintenance and overcrowding make the vessels prone to capsizing.
    According to initial report, the ferry “Silver Star” collided with a barge in the Ngawun River and sank shortly after the accident.
    It is questionable whether the accident was a preventable tragedy. There were not enough lifejackets for the passengers, the navigational equipment was unreliable, the weather conditions were harsh, the ferry followed the navigation rules for safety of the passengers etc.
    Like thousands of people who drive buses, pilot ships or fly planes, the captain of the ferry held the lives of others in his hands.
    That demands an extra measure of care because a mistake, a moment of inattention or true negligence can be catastrophic.
    Most of us know how easy it is to make mistakes at work and would be hard-pressed to draw the line between carelessness and the kind of negligence that is criminal.
    A systematic investigation should be made into the accident to find the causes and take action against those who are responsible for this tragedy.
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