Speedboat accidents are a common affair on Mawa-Shimulia river route leading to deaths and injuries of passengers.
Without permission, most of such water vehicles have been operating in the southern region for around two decades.
At least 50-100 people die in accidents every year, said a speedboat driver seeking anonymity.
Speedboats overloaded with passengers often get overturned, he said, adding that drivers are forced to take more passengers by vessel owners and toll collectors at the jetty.
Speedboat trips are also arranged during peak hours in the evening, which is highly risky and forbidden because of low visibility after sunset.
Another speedboat driver Abdul Quader said that around 10,000 passengers take the services every day on the route and the fare for each person is Tk150-Tk200.
The route has 26 registered speedboats, but about 300 speedboats are operated across the channel from three terminals at Shimulia, Majhirghat and Banglabazar, said Kazi Wakil Nawaz, director (port) of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority.
Around Tk15 to Tk20 lakh is earned from the services, and a large chunk of the income goes to local influential people and various agencies so that the illegal vessels can operate without any hindrance, said a businessman from Madaripur seeking anonymity.
About the illegal boats, Director General of Shipping Syed Ariful Islam said, "We have asked the owners to get their vehicles registered and told the operators to receive training and get registered too as drivers. Maybe, they have no interest in this. So, we are going to take legal action after the Eid-ul-Fitr."
The three jetties are maintained and rented by the BIWTA while the local administration has control over operations.
According to BIWTA Port Director Kazi Wakil Nawaz, the jetties were leased for around Tk2 crore.
Locals said speedboats were seen carrying passengers on Tuesday, a day after the accident that took 26 lives, but no law enforcer agencies were seen taking any steps regarding that.
Deputy Commissioner of Madaripur Rahima Khatun, however, said the administration, river police and coast guard were on high alert and a magistrate had been deployed there.
"I will keep a watch. If anyone operates a speedboat, strict action will be taken," she said.