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Angry workers set fire to two launches on Buriganga PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 05 May 2008

Bdnews24.com

Angry workers set fire to two launches on the Buriganga Sunday, protesting the closure of a pier at Gudaraghat, across from Sadarghat.Authorities Sunday decided to run the activities of a pier, known as Masjidghat, east of Sadarghat, for one more month, hours after angry workers set fire to two launches on the Buriganga, protesting the closure of the pier, a BIWTA official said.

The decision came from a meeting between the officials of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority and the officials of the district administration and the police.

"We have decided to run the pier one more month. Later it will be moved to a new place on discussion with all the stakeholders," BIWTA director Mahbubul Alam said.

Earlier, deputy commissioner (DC) of Dhaka district Kamal Hossain and the district's superintendent of police (SP) Mahbub Hossain gave similar assurances.

Md Badiuzzaman Badal, acting chairman of Bangladesh Inland Waterways Passenger Carriers Association, told bdnews24.com: "Angry people have set fire to two of our launches and burnt down three others partially."

"They also vandalised 15 launches and looted goods. Some 30 people were injured at that time," Badiuzzaman said. "Launch operators will not bring their launches back to Sadarghat unless the authorities gave them any assurance." "The launch owners and workers are feeling insecure.

The workers are moving their launches from Sadarghat to another place," he added. Angry workers set fire to two launches on the Buriganga after the BIWTA ordered the pier closed.

Thousands of agitating people obstructed the fire fighters who had come to the scene to douse the fire and threw brickbats at the police.

Sub-inspector of South Keraniganj Police Station Golam Mostafa told bdnews24.com: "The police could not take any action as there were thousands of people there.

If the police had taken action, the situation would have spun out of control." Babul Dhali, a garment trader of Gudaraghat Alam Tower, said: "Thousands of people use Masjidghat every day to go to the markets of Gudaraghat. There are around 150 markets around the pier." The pier is 200 years old, Dhali said.

The people found that the pier had been closed when they had come to work in the morning and set fire to two launches, Dhali said.

Several launches were vandalised as they were trying to escape the scene, he added. Dhali said the situation compelled the police not to go for action and the firefighters initially could not do their job.

The protestors took position in Gudaraghat and chanted slogans demanding the resumption of the pier. They became calm as the DC and SP the assured them that the pier would run its activities like before.

bdnews24.com's Mitford correspondent said that the BIWTA officials, the police and the officials of district administration met for around two hours and cancelled the order to close the pier.

The launch owners' organisation held a meeting at the same time and decided not to anchor their launches in the pier unless the authorities assured them of security.

Sub-inspector of Keraniganj Police Station Abdur Rashid said Sunday morning: "Agitating people set fire to the launches after the BIWTA ordered the pier closed."

"We are finding it difficult to control the situation," Rashid said. The launches that came under arson attacks are Obhijan-3, which was bound for Barisal from Dhaka, and Riaz-4, bound for Fatullah.

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