The noukar haat (boat market) at Kawkandi Bazar in Tahirpur upazila of Sunamganj district that sits twice a week becomes crowded every Saturday and Monday as the traditional country boats, serving as convenient transport in riverine southern region, go on sale during the ongoing rainy season.
Carpenters of Nowapara, Mohabbatpur, Chokbazaar, Payekpara, Lakhipur, Kushiura and Voktarpur in Doarabazaar upazila and Maharam, Lakmar and Lamakata villages under Tahirpur upazila of the area build mainly panis, dingi and naak golui types of boats and bring to the weekly market stretching about two kilometres.
The timbers used for building the boats are locally available koroi, rain tree, jarul, shal, sundari, mahogany and teak.
The timber is seasoned and tar or tannin of mangosteen is applied for making the boats water resistant.
Boat making is a traditional family business for many people in the area and the skill is learnt through apprenticeship with father, brother or any elder relative.
Assisted by a helper, a carpenter can build a boat within four days after purchasing sized woods from local saw-mills, said Swapan Sadhu, a boat maker of Muktahar.
“Depending on design, size, finishing, coating, and construction materials, manufacturing of a boat usually costs Tk 1200-4000 and is sold for 15-20 percent profit,” said Yusuf Ali, a boat maker at noukar haat.
At the market, a small pinis boat sells for Tk 1500-1700, large one for Tk 2500-4500, dingi Tk 2500-3000, naak golui for Tk 1500- 2000, said boat trader Motin Miah.
“Most of the boats of this market are of flat-bottom type. These are suitable for canals and often used for carrying guava, crop and nursery items,” said Munjer Hasan, a boat purchaser.
These are usually 13.5 to 18 feet long and 3 to 4 feet wide and can be operated easily by one or two boatmen to cover short distances, he said.
A well-built and properly maintained boat can be used on shallow waters for more than one season, said Anwar Mistri of Lakhipur village.
“Over 500 families are involved in boat building trade in this region. On an average, 60-100 boats are sold every Saturday and Monday, the market day at noukar haat. The business continues for weeks from July, depending on the length of monsoon,” said Mohammad Ali, a resident of Kawkandi Bazar.