The government has moved to raise launch fares across the country on grounds of increased fuel prices.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has already drafted a new fare chart and sent it to the shipping ministry for approval.
Per kilometre fare will rise to Tk 1.78 from Tk 1.50 for the first 100 km travel, according to the proposal. And passengers will have to pay Tk 1.42 per km instead of Tk 1.20 for the distance above 100 kilometres.
The minimum fare would also be increased by Tk 5 to Tk 20 if the proposal is approved, said an official of BIWTA.
A seven-member committee comprised of representatives of launch owners, officials of BIWTA and the shipping ministry formulated the proposal.
"The ministry will take the final decision after scrutinising the proposal. There may be a few changes in the fare chart if the minister wishes," BIWTA Chairman Shamsuddoha Khandaker told The Daily Star.
The government was likely to announce the fare hikes by next week, he added.
Meanwhile, passengers expressed dissatisfaction over the new move that came within a few days of bus fare hike.
Launch owners, however, said there was no alternative to increasing the fares.
"Launch operators allow excessive passengers to make additional profit. Their services are very poor. They are more concerned about making profit than delivering quality services," said Sajal Das, a regular traveller on the Dhaka-Barisal route.
A round trip of a launch from Dhaka to Barisal now costs Tk 37,000, up from Tk 30,000, said Badiuzzaman Badal, a leader of Bangladesh Inland Waterways (passenger carriers') Association. The cost of travel on other routes also increased in similar ratio.
"So how can we continue giving the service without increasing the fares?"
Last time, the government increased the launch fares in January, 2012, said BIWTA officials.
On January 3 this year, the prices of diesel and kerosene were raised by Tk 7 to Tk 68 a litre and octane and petrol by Tk 5 a litre to Tk 99 and Tk 96 in efforts to reduce subsidies on them. These price hikes were followed by an increase in long-distance bus fares by 10 paisa per kilometre, which came into effect on January 20.