Sunday, February 25, 2024

Touts cash in on ferry mess

Frequent suspension of ferry service on Paturia-Daulatdia and Mawa-Kawrakandi routes has been disrupting communication between Dhaka and 21 south-western districts for the last few days and some unscrupulous people are taking full advantage of the situation.
Ferry service on both the routes was suspended for several hours yesterday since several ferries ran aground in the Padma.
The Paturia-Daulatdia service halted around midday yesterday after ferry Khan Jahan Ali got stuck in a char hidden beneath the surface of the water. It, however, got loose after 10 minutes of frantic manoeuvring of the vessel. Ferry Shah Ali also got stuck around 5:30pm halting the service until 7:30 in the evening, reports our Manikganj correspondent.
The disruption stranded almost 2,000 buses and trucks at the ferry terminals of Daulatdia and Paturia where some people were selling truckers ferry tickets for almost twice the fare and allowing them to cut the queue.
A number of officials and employees of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation, the police and scalpers were allegedly taking Tk 600-1,000 on top of the ferry tickets and allowing truckers to cut the queue.
Truck driver Abul Bashar of Satkhira said he reached Paturia early Wednesday and he got his ticket yesterday noon for Tk 1,700.
Bokul Mollah, another trucker from Sarongtia of Sreepur upazila in Magura, said he reached Paturia Wednesday morning too and he got the ferry ticket from a scalper yesterday noon for Tk 1,500.
The tickets actually cost Tk 960.
Many drivers and assistants of trucks waiting at the terminals for days were in a pickle as they ran out of money to buy food even.
Ashraf Ullah Khan, manager (commerce) of BIWTC, denied the allegation of his officials and employees taking bribes.
In-charge of Paturia Police Outpost Mahbub Hossain said scalpers and employees and officials of BIWTC could be involved in this but he assured that no policemen were involved in such heinous activity.
The disruption is equally bad in Mawa. Ferry service on Mawa-Kawrakandi route was suspended for over two hours after ferry Bhasha Shaheed Barkat ran aground near Mawa terminal, our Munshiganj correspondent reports.
The service resumed around 11:00am but was halted just five minutes later as another ferry Jamuna got stuck metres away from where Bhasha Shaheed Barkat was stranded.
The ferry service, however, resumed 10 minutes later.
Sirajul Haq, manager of BIWTC Mawa terminal, told The Daily Star that the ferry service is being run through a shallow channel despite apparent risks.
A team of experts from the headquarters of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority reached Paturia around noon yesterday and went to the channel area where poor navigability has become a major issue.
After a four-hour look-around, the team’s consultant Mominul Haque said, “We have sufficient water 1,200-1,300 feet downstream. Two dredgers will start dredging tomorrow [Monday] to make it a permanent approach to the terminal. The permanent approach channel will be usable for ferries within two to three days.”
The BIWTA in the evening issued a press statement saying all ferries of Paturia-Daulatdia and Mawa-Kawrakandi routes have been asked to ply with 6.5-foot draft until the BIWTA fixes the navigability.
It asked heavily loaded lorries not to use the ferries and use alternative routes.
However, the apparent alternative route in question is a really long detour using the Bangabandhu Bridge.


Courtesy of The daily Star

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