Launch owners on Sunday said that they would provide better service to Eid time passengers without increasing fares and requested the government to stop extortions at ferry terminals.
They gave the assurance at a meeting with shipping minister Shajahan Khan.
Later, the minister told reporters that the deputy commissioners and the police superintendents had been asked to take action against extortions and illegal toll collection at the terminals.
The meeting discussed smooth launch and ferry services during Eid-ul-Fitr
Launch owners assured us that they would not charge from the passengers beyond the fares set by the government, Shajahan said.
He said that the owners demanded special drives to ensure hassle-free Eid time journeys of the passengers on all the routes.
The shipping minister said that the deputy commissioners and the police superintendents, who attended the meeting, had been asked to take stern action against extortions and illegal toll collections at ferry terminals on all major river routes across the country.
Officials from Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority and Bangladesh Coastguards, among others, attended the meeting.
‘We will not increase launch fares beyond the rates set by the government ahead of Eid,’ senior vice-president of the Bangladesh Inland River Transports (Passengers) Agency Badiuzzaman Badal told reporters.
The authorities told the meeting that hawkers would be evicted from the
roads leading to Sadarghat Launch Terminal from
Gulistan including at Bahadur Shah Park to facilitate easy movement of home-bound passengers during the rush hours before and after Eid-ul-Fitr, likely to be celebrated on August 20.
The minister requested city dwellers to send their family members as early as possible to avoid the rush during the Eid vacation, which would virtually begin on August 15.
He also said that the government would ask the apparel factory owners to announce separate and staggered schedules for Eid vacation so that the workers did not rush to bus and launch terminals at a time, for which the situation had gone beyond control in the past.
‘As we do not have enough buses, launches or trains to carry so many passengers at a time it would be necessary to increase the frequency of service with the same vessels,’ Shajahan, who is also a road transport labour leader, said replying to a question.
He said the launch owners had been asked not to press launches without fitness certificates into service.
The minister said the owners agreed to operate their launches day and night to double the frequency of the service for carrying the extra passengers at the time of Eid.
He said that additional police force, the coastguards and other law enforcement personnel would be deployed at launch terminals and on the river routes to check overloading.
He said that the government would operate one passenger vessel and the owners would press four additional launches to ferry passengers from Chandpur to Barisal at the time of Eid.
He said that no trucks, except the ones carrying ‘goods needed the most’ would be allowed on the highways to cut down congestions at ferry terminals during the Eid vacation rush.
Illegal toll collection continues to hamper smooth traffic movement at ferry terminals, especially at Paturia, Daulatdia, Mawa, Kaorakandi although the government claims that it took measures against the menace to reduce public sufferings.
Newspapers reported time and again that the shipping minister, who is also the executive president of the Sarak Paribahan Sramik Federation, backs the groups engaged in illegal toll collection at ferry terminals.
Shajahan Khan’s organization alone collects at least Tk 51 crore a year in the name of raising funds for workers’ welfare, according to a parliamentary sub-committee, which described the amount as the tip of the iceberg.
-With New Age input