Monday, July 15, 2024

Not a single ferry ticket now available at counters

South-bound passengers in trouble
With Eid-ul-Fitr knocking at the door, not a single ferry ticket is available for the southern parts of the country. All tickets were sold out even
before the scheduled booking date. Sources alleged that most of these tickets have ended up in the hands of an illegal travel syndicate that aims to sell them later at
a premium.
According to sources in the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Association (BIWTA), private launch services will start selling advance cabin tickets from August 10,
while the state-run Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) will start the sale on Wednesday. The decision was taken at a meeting on August 6 in the
presence of law enforcers, launch owners and the shipping secretary.
But when The Independent visited the Sadarghat terminal on Wednesday, supervisors of vessels bound for the Sundarbans, Suravi, Kirtonkhola, Achol, Agrodut plus and
Parabat areas on the Dhaka-Barisal-Vandaria route, told The Independent that all advance cabin tickets for Eid were sold out last week.
When asked, Mahbub Uddin Ahmed Bir Bikram, chairman of the Bangladesh Inland Waterways (passenger carriers) Association (BIWA), said: “Although the tickets were to be
sold from August 10, it doesn’t mean that we can’t do it before the scheduled date. The sooner it ends, the better it is for us.”
The BIWA chairman’s comment only reflects the wayward manner in which the entire ticket management of the ferry network is being handled.
Saidur Rahman, a lecturer of Jagannath University, on Wednesday tried to buy a ticket from the ferry reservation counter. “I knew that private launches will start
selling tickets from August 10. But on Wednesday I was told that all tickets were sold out last week. I feel helpless,” he said.
Some people alleged that private launch owners would sell the tickets on the black market to fleece the common people just ahead of Eid.
“This has become a permanent feature every year, owing to the irresponsibility of government officials and law enforcement agencies,” said Hasibul Haque, a student of
Dhaka College.
When asked, Shahab Uddin Milon, vice-chairman of the BIWA, told The Independent: “Selling cabin tickets on the black market is rather difficult, as we’ve only 2,500
cabins in launches, whereas the demand is for 10,000 cabins before Eid.”
He said the maximum number of cabins usually get booked at least two months in advance, and that the names are officially entered into the register after declaring a
date for selling the rest of the tickets. “This practice has been going on for the past ten years,” he added. The Independent spoke to some launch officials in a bid
to acquire tickets for a “sold-out” vessel. Harun-or-Rashid, a crew of Surovi-7, said a ticket for a single cabin can be arranged at Tk. 1,200, while a ticket for
double cabins would require Tk. 2,500. The regular rates are Tk. 950 and Tk. 1,900, respectively.
Saiful Haque Khan, senior deputy director of the BIWTA (Traffic) at the Sadarght terminal, told The Independent: “I can’t do anything about the ferry tickets. It is
completely up to launch owners. We’re appointing extra police personnel from August 16 to ensure the security of passengers.”

-With The Independent input

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