Parents have blamed the authorities of a school for overcrowding the boat that capsized in the Pagla river in Brahmanbaria’s Nabinagar on Wednesday (01 November).
The boat was hired by the authorities of Birgaon High School and College to take around 100 Junior School Certificate examinees to their test centre on the other side of the river. Two female students died and 18 other class-VIII students were injured when the boat sank.
The parents alleged that the school authorities took Tk 200 from each of the students to take them to and from the exam centre in Krishnanagar Abdul Zabbar High School during the JSC tests every day.
On Wednesday morning before the Bangla first paper exam, the school authorities hired a boat which could carry 50 to 60 students but took more than 100 on board, they alleged. The boat went down minutes after it started from Thanakandi Ghat.
Al-Mamun, uncle of one of the deceased, Nadira, said although a teacher from the school was supposed to be with the students, no one from the educational institution accompanied the examinees.
He said many guardians had asked the principal not to overcrowd the boat.
Contacted, Nazir Hossain, the principal, said the school had 284 examinees but only 115 of them paid the boat fare.
“We hired two boats for 115 students as we did not have enough money. However, some of the guardians and many other students boarded the boats despite our warnings,” he said, adding that he was accompanying other students in another boat.
Brahmanbaria Additional District Magistrate Shahedul Islam, also the chief of the three-member committee formed to investigate the incident, said they were looking into the alleged negligence of the school authorities.
“We will take action against those responsible following investigation and submit our report within two working days,” he added.
Brahmanbaria Deputy Commissioner Rezwanur Rahman yesterday handed over Tk 20,000 as financial assistance to the families of Nadira and Sonia, the other deceased.
He said he would ensure that at least a teacher goes with students when they cross the river during the ongoing exams.
Meanwhile, the education ministry has decided to take a re-examination of the 18 students who failed to appear in the exam on Wednesday, said Mohiuddin Khan, acting secretary of secondary and higher education department of the ministry.