Case of Capsized Sagaing Ferry Brought to Court

By Tin Htet Paing 20 December 2016

RANGOON—The case of the overcrowded ferry that capsized on the Chindwin River in Sagaing Division in October, killing some 70 passengers, has been brought to court.

Police initially arrestedfive individualsthe captain, two ferry workers and the two owners of the boatinvolved in the ferry accident. However, a legal advisor reportedly suggested that the two ferry workers be discharged from the suit,police official U SoeMyint of the Kani police station told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

The police filed charges against KoZawMyo Win, the captain of the privately owned AungSoe Moe Kyaw-2 ferry at the Yinmabin District Court under Article 304 (a) of Burma’s Penal Code, which imposes seven to ten years in prison “for causing death by negligence.”

The two owners—U MyintKyaw and U HtayZaw, were also charged under local legislationfor water transport facilities and the Kani Township court will handle their case, the police official said.

Although authorities were unable to confirm the exact number of passengers on board at the time of the incident, survivors estimated that it was carrying more than 250 people. There were a total of 159 survivors, including the captain and the two ferry workers, according to the official report released by the regional government.

According to S Willy Frient, Director of Sagaing Division’s Relief and Resettlement Department, the ministry of construction will construct a new tarmac road from Homlin to Pinleku so that residents in the region will have another travel option during the rainy reason. The move was recommended by the national natural disaster management committee and approved by the President, he added.

“One consequence of the ferry capsizing is that there will be a new road constructed for the public to be able to use in all seasons,” S Willy Frient told The Irrawaddy.

Similar incidents have occurred on Arakan State’s rivers with police noting that deaths were often the result of an insufficient or total lack of life jackets provided for passengers on board, as well as a lack of respect for transport regulations by ferry operators.