Eid home rush: Nightmare awaits ferry passengers

People could be stuck in their vehicles for hours before they are able to board ferries, transport operators have warned.


April 21, 2022

DHAKA – An inadequate number of ferries and gridlocks on highways are likely to be causes of sufferings for Eid holidaymakers heading to the 21 southern districts via the Paturia-Daulatdia and Shimulia-Kathalbari routes.

People could be stuck in their vehicles for hours before they are able to board ferries, transport operators have warned.

They also said the Eid rush is likely to be heavier this year as there are almost no Covid restrictions in place.

People travelling on the Aricha-Kazirhat ferry route are also set to suffer because of an inadequate number of ferries.

Paturia and Aricha terminals are located in Manikganj, Daulatdia is in Rajbari, Kazirhat in Pabna, Shimulia in Munshiganj, and Kathalbari in Madaripur.

On average, 4,000 vehicles ply the Paturia-Daulatdia route daily on 17 to 18 ferries while three ferries carry around 800 vehicles on the Aricha-Kazirhat route every day, said Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) officials.

During Eid, the flow of vehicles is likely to double on the Paturia-Daulatdia route, which may lead to gridlocks near the terminals.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Arshaf Sheikh, a truck driver, said, “We have been witnessing long queues at Daulatdia for the last few days. It looks like the situation will worsen during Eid.”

BIWTC officials said they were operating 19 ferries on the Paturia-Daulatdia route.

“We will add two more ferries to the fleet to cope with the rush,” said Shah Md Khaled Newaz, deputy general manager (Commerce) of BIWTC.

“We will add another ferry to the fleet of three on the Aricha-Kazirhat route.

“So, we will have 25 ferries that will be operated during the Eid. We hope it will be sufficient for the holidaymakers.”

BIWTC Director (Control) SM Ashikuzzaman said, “We will be on high alert so that no truck, except those carrying perishable goods, can enter the ferry terminal.”

Apart from ferries, passenger-carrying launches also ply those routes. A total of 33 launches have been kept ready for carrying the holidaymakers, said Panna Lal Nandi, supervisor of Paturia Launch Ghat.

Despite these words of assurance, passengers and transport operators fear suffering on people’s way home.

They said the number of ferries is not sufficient to carry such a huge number of passengers.

According to rough estimates of transport experts, around 1.2 crore people will leave Dhaka ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr, which will be either on May 2 or 3.

Construction works underway at different points of a 90km stretch of the Dhaka-Paturia highway are also expected to cause gridlock.

Vehicles slow down at Golra, Manikganj bus station, Baniajuri, Falsatia, Tepra and Uthuli points on the highway. It is likely to intensify during the rush, said passengers and transport operators.

On the Shimulia-Kathalbari route, ferry services are operated on a limited scale to ensure the safety of a Padma bridge pillar.

The decision was taken after ferries collided with the pillar at least four times last year.

Normally, some 600 to 700 small vehicles ply this route daily. The number may rise to 3,500 to 4,000 during the Eid rush, said Faysal Ahmmad, manager (commerce) of BIWTC’s Shimulia office.

“We are planning to further increase the number of ferries. But the decision is yet to be final,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.

Car driver Alauddin Hossain, who frequently drives on the route, said, “Normally, it takes around one hour to board a ferry. But it may take five to six hours during the Eid rush.”

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