To set up Authority for development, maintenance and control of inland water transport and of certain inland navigable waterways the then East Pakistan Government on 31st October 1958 promulgated an ordinance called the East Pakistan Inland water Transport Authority Ordinance 1958 (E.P. Ordinance, NO LXXV of 1958). On November 4, 1958 the Government by an order constituted a three member Authority of East Pakistan Inland Water Transport Authority (EPIWTA). The BIWTA came in to existence on promulgation of the above ordinance 1958 as the successor of the former EPIWTA. An advisory committee have subsequently been constituted to advise the authority in respect of all matters related to development, maintenance and operation of inland water transport and of inland waterways in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has about 24,000 km. of rivers, streams and canals that together cover about 7% of the country’s surface. Most part of the country is linked by a complex network of waterways which reaches its extensive size in the monsoon period. Out of 24,000 km. of rivers, streams and canals only about 5,968 km. is navigable by mechanized vessels during monsoon period which shrinks to about 3,865km. during dry period. The IWT sector carries over 50% of all arterial freight traffic and one quarter of all passenger traffic.