Daulatdia-Paturia route, Passengers at launch and ferry wharf feared during Eid-ul-Fitr

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Zakir Hossain Goalanda (Rajbari) : The concerned people are fearing that the homebound people of the south-western region will have to suffer on the Daulatdia-Paturia waterway again on Eid. Passengers on this waterway have been suffering from the last monsoon season. However, this Eid, the level of suffering of ordinary passengers is expected to increase several times. Nurul Anwar Milon, Manager, Daulatdia Launch Ghat, said that the Daulatdia-Paturia waterway is the gateway to the south-west. About 30,000 passengers use the launch dock of this waterway every day. However, the launch dock was damaged last monsoon. Due to the lack of proper reforms, the suffering will increase during the Eid journey. According to the investigation, half of the Daulatdia launch ghat was washed away in the Padma river last monsoon. The only wooden bridge to take off and launch was crippled. During the monsoon season, the Water Development Board and BIWTA urgently dropped the sand-filled geo-bags and somehow kept the launch dock operational. The two wooden bridges of the ghat have been crippled for a long time. Passengers using the ghats with paired hands are moving all year round with various misfortunes and sufferings. Although more than Tk 2 crore is collected annually from both Daulatdia and Paturia ghats, the BIWTA authorities are not repairing the damaged ghats due to invisible reasons. Daulatdia launch ghat leaseholder Badiruzzaman Token said, “I have leased Daulatdia launch ghat this time after spending a lot of money.” But the road to the launch ghat is very bad so the passengers travel much less. Most passengers cross the river on alternate ferries. We have to count many losses due to less passenger movement through this ghat. On the other hand, according to BIWTC’s Daulatdia Ghat office, a total of 20 ferries, including 11 roro (large), six utility (small), two drawn (dump) ferries and one K-type (medium) ferry, operate on the Daulatdia-Paturia waterway. If 20 ferries run normally, an average of 638 passenger buses, 1258 freight trucks and 162 small vehicles and a total of 3,008 vehicles go from Daulatdia Ghat to Paturia Ghat in 24 hours. The pressure will increase during Eid. Besides, out of the total seven ferries in Daulatdia, Ghats No. 1 and 2 have been in a state of disrepair since the inauguration five years ago. Ghat No. 6 has been crippled since last monsoon. Ghats 3 and 4 have been kept active in some way. Ghats 5 and 6 are in operation. However, as the water depth of the Padma River has decreased, heavy vehicles are facing problems in getting up and down from the ferry. In addition, from time to time, many vehicles get stuck on the connecting road. Disabled vehicles are removed with BIWTA’s own wrecker. The driver of the vehicle has to pay Rs 3400 per hour for the wreck. Concerned parties fear that these problems will increase the suffering of passengers and ferries crossing the launch ghat before Eid. Shah Alam, Port Officer, Paturia-Aricha River Port, said that passengers at the Daulatdia launch dock on the Daulatdia-Paturia waterway are suffering a lot to get on and off the launch. The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has written to the Department of Engineers to expedite the repair of the wharf. Hopefully repairs will be done very soon. Shah Alam, Deputy Assistant Engineer, BIWTA, acknowledged the plight of passengers and drivers at Daulatdia Ghat and said that the ghat must be repaired if the water level of Padma River rises. Work cannot be done as the water is low. The ghat will remain like this till the water rises. Passengers have to deal with temporary distress. Khaled Newaz, Deputy Assistant Director, Aricha Port, BIWTC, said the vessels were unable to operate normally as the water depth of the Padma and Jamuna rivers on the Daulatdia-Paturia route was declining. That is why some vehicles have to wait for the ferry at both the ports. However, he hoped that there would be no problems if the river water rises.

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