To keep a ferry operational, a worker pumps out water that had entered through the cracks of the vessel at Lebukhali terminal on the Paira River on Barisal-Patuakhali road. PHOTO: STAR
Overall ferry service in Patuakhali and Barguna coastal districts remains in an awful state for years as all the 10 ferries in the region expired their usual service period long ago while rundown gangways and pontoons pose risky for vehicles.
Most of the ferries have developed cracks that let water in and it often requires removal of the water with pumping machines.
Three of the ferries are stationed at Lebukhali point on Paira River on Patuakhali-Barisal road, one each at Kalapara on the Andharmanik River, Hazipur on Sonatala River, and Mohipur on Shibbaria River on Patuakhali-Kuakata road, Boga on the Lohalia River on Patuakhali-Baufal road, Horidevpur on the Ramnabad River on Patuakhali-Galachipa road, Nalua on the Paira River on Dumki-Bakerganj road in Patuakhali district.
Two other ferries are at Amtali on the Paira River on Patuakhali-Barguna road and at Bainchutki on Barguna-Kakchira road in Barguna district.
The ferries at Lebukhali, Kalapara, Hazipur, Mohipur and Amtali run round the clock while the rest run only during the day time, said sources at Roads and Highways Department (RHD) and ferry division.
During a visit to important Lebukhali ferry terminal on the Paira River on Patuakhali-Barisal road this correspondent saw workers removing water from a ferry with pump machine.
"We have to remove water from inside the ferry three or four times daily as water enters through cracks. We have to manage huge pressure as over 1,000 vehicles of different types daily cross the river by ferry on an average," said Md Mostafa, a supervisor of the ferry.
Vehicles cross the gangway at Mohipur on Patuakhali-Kuakata road amid risk as steel-made plates at the north side cracked.
Workers have to regularly pump out water from the ferry there.
The pontoon at Galachipa ferry terminal partly sinks during the high tide as cracks developed at its bottom.
"Often we have to wait a couple of hours at the terminals when they remove water from the ferries with pumps. Passengers including tourists suffer a lot due to the situation," said Md Jasim Uddin, a bus driver of Patuakhali-Kuakata route.
Usual service period of a ferry is 10 years but ferries as old as 30 to 40 years are running in the region, said Abul Fazal Malik, executive engineer of Patuakhali ferry division.
"We sent several letters to the higher authorities concerned to take immediate steps in the regard but in vain," he said.
Md Jahirul Islam, executive engineer of Patuakhali RHD, said, "All the ferries, pontoons, and gangways in the region are in need of renovation or replacement. We sent letters to the chief engineer to arrange new ferries here."