Bangladesh is a country of rivers. Its total waterway network is considered 24,000 km, whereas its present length of operational network is only 6000 km, which also declines to 3800 km during the dry season. Realizing this grave concern and demand of the present time, the present government has taken a good number of steps to improve the overall condition of IWT sector, aiming to make the waterway safe and comfortable for its users across the country.
As BIWTC is the single service organization of the government in IWT sector, obviously, its role is still leading in the sector. It started the services of carrying passengers, goods and others in the name of ‘Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC)’ since 1972, when the East Pakistan Water Transport Corporation was merged with 9 other private shipping companies, under the Presidential Order No. 28 of 1972 as part of nationalization policy of the government. And thus the organization of BIWTC was introduced in the present name.
Importantly, BIWTC has been playing a very significant role in the IWT sector since its new beginning in 1972. Once it had been the lone and still it is the largest but single public organization in the sector. In spite of the fact, its role is being limited day-by-day. The main reason behind is that when the government introduced the privatization policy, side by side the public sector, private partners were also allowed to operate in the IWT sector. As a result, BIWTC started facing competitions with the private operators in the sector. But, for long, BIWTC was operating with age-old and dilapidated vehicles and suffering the crises of sufficient budgetary and logistical supports from the government to improve its overall service system, to repair old vessels, to collect new vessels and to introduce other necessary facilities.
Al long last, the government has rightly realized the importance of IWT sector, especially the role of BIWTC in the sector. Accordingly, a good number of development initiatives and projects have been undertaken to meet the demand of the age and to fulfil the shortages of BIWTC, as well as to improve the overall condition of IWT sector and to serve the people well.
Keeping all this in mind, we try to focus on the problems, potentials and all the good initiatives and development activities and programmes undertaken by BIWTC. Accordingly, this issue contains the interview of the chairman and articles of technical experts of BIWTC. All these valuable stories have reflected the latest scenario of challenges, development activities, achievements, future plans, impotance and potentials of BIWTC in the IWT sector. And it is expected that after full implementation of all these ongoing development programmes, BIWTC will open a new horizon for its users. So, considering the present demand of IWT sector, we feel that the government should give BIWTC more roles to play.