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River transporters face uncertainty over ‘special’ Eid services

29 June 2022
River transporters face uncertainty over ‘special’ Eid services

Shimulia Ferry Ghat looks deserted because there was few number of passengers found on Tuesday due to Padma Bridge as it was opened to traffic on Saturday. NN photo

News Desk :
Launch owners operating on the Dhaka-Barishal route are fearing a drop in passenger numbers during the Eid-ul-Azha holidays after the inauguration of the Padma Bridge.
The owners were unable to finalise the plan for special launch services during Eid to facilitate travel as a result, reports bdnews24.com
The Padma Bridge opened to traffic on Sunday, a day after its inauguration. Launch owners fear that more people will use bus services this Eid instead of water transport.
This year, Eid-ul-Azha is expected to fall on Jul 10.
The authorities traditionally struggled to cope with passenger pressure on the Dhaka-Barishal route 20-25 days before Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha. The government also worked to make the journeys smooth. Launches were seen crowded even on the day of Eid.
Passengers would sweat over buying tickets for cabins. Those unlucky enough not to even secure deck tickets would still make the journeys by risking their lives.
The Padma Bridge is set to change the scenario, according to launch owners.
Saidur Rahman Rintu, chairman of MV Sundarban launch construction company Sundarban Navigation, said, "This is the first Eid after the launch of the bridge. It is certain that the number of passengers on launches will decrease. But it remains to be seen how much the numbers will fall."
"We are keeping an eye on everything. No decision has been taken yet on Eid special launch services."
If Eid is on Jul 9, there will be special launch services on the Dhaka-Barishal route on Jul 7 and 8, said Rintu. "If Eid falls on Jul 10, the special launches will also operate on Jul 9."
But it all depends on passenger pressure, he said.
However, Rintu hoped that many passengers will choose launches over road travel due to low fares.
Drawing on the difference between bus and launch fares, he said, "It costs each passenger a minimum of Tk 500-600 to reach      Barishal from Dhaka by bus. With this fare, two passengers can go to Barishal by launch. Besides, small children are allowed to travel for free, which is not possible on buses."
Md Bellal, manager of Surovi launch, said that although no decision has been taken yet about the special services, advance ticket sales are underway.
"But there has not been much response from the passengers," he said.
Khalequzzaman Russell, a native of Barishal, said that he had to lobby many people to secure launch cabins in order to travel home during the Eid holidays in the past. Russell, now based in Dhaka, said that this time he wanted to go home by bus.
"I'll get to visit the Padma Bridge and also celebrate Eid with my family and relatives."
BIWTC River Safety and Traffic Inspector Md Kabir Hossain said that 24 launches have permission to run on the Dhaka-Barishal route. A maximum of 18 launches have operated on the route so far during the two Eids.
"In the two days before and after the two Eids, each launch makes double trips at times. It is unlikely to happen this time. Nothing more can be said in advance."

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