Hundreds of passengers, including children and women, went through immense suffering as ferry service on the Paturia-Daulatdia route has been facing disruption since Thursday due to strong current and poor navigability in the Padma.
Yesterday morning, over 800 vehicles, mostly buses and goods-laden trucks, were seen stuck in long tailbacks on both sides of the river.
On average, a vehicle had to wait for six to seven hours to board a ferry. Frustrated, many bus passengers got down and walked to the terminals.
Visiting Paturia Ghat in Manikganj, our correspondent in the district reported that some 400 vehicles, heading towards the terminal, were stuck in at least three points, including Boalia area, on the Dhaka-Aricha highway in Shibaloy upazila.
On the other side of the river in Rajbari's Goalanda, there was about a four kilometre tailback, stretching from the Daulatdia Ghat to Feed Mill area in upazila, on the Dhaka-Khulna highway.
Shakil Ahmed, who was travelling in a Hanif Paribahan bus, said the vehicle left Magura town for Dhaka around 10:00pm on Friday and got stuck in jam near the Daulatdia Ghat around 1:00am yesterday.
It could not make it to a ferry till 9:00am.
“It should hardly need seven to eight minutes to reach the Ghat but we haven't been able to do it in eight hours,” a frustrated Shakil told our Manikganj correspondent. “It's totally hellish.”
Several other passengers also talked about their torment.
Contacted, sources at the terminal said vehicles' pressure on the route increased as buses and trucks avoided the Shimulia-Kanthalbari route due to ferry disruption there because of poor navigability.
This worsened the situation on the Paturia-Daulatdia route, the sources added.
Meanwhile, many passengers said some air-conditioned buses did not have to wait in the queues and they went straight into the Paturia and Daulatdia terminals driving on the wrong lanes.
Asked, Inspector Golam Ambia of Manikganj Highway Police said the buses were allowed to do that as per a decision from “their higher authority”. He declined to elaborate.
Shafiqul Islam, manager (commerce) of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) at the Daulatdia Ghat office, said ferry service was facing disruption since Thursday due to strong currents and poor navigability in the Padma.
Out of the 19 ferries on the route, 17 remained in operation and they were struggling to maintain schedule.
Ro-Ro ferry Keramat Ali and utility ferry Ranjanigandha remained out of operation since Thursday due to technical issues, Shafiqul said, adding, Terminal-1 at the Daulatdia Ghat was closed due to river dredging while ferries could not anchor at the nearby Terminal-2 due to strong current of the river.
Sources at Shimulia Ghat in Munshiganj said only three of the 18 ferries on the Shimulia-Kathalbari route could operate yesterday due to poor navigability of the Padma, our correspondent in the district reported.
About 500 vehicles, mostly trucks, were waiting to board ferries in the morning.
Giasuddin Patwari, a BIWTC manager at the Shimulia Ghat, said the situation has been the same for the last several days.
BIWTC Assistant General Manager Syed Shah Barkatullah said they started dredging “China Channel” using dredgers of the Padma bridge authorities on Friday.
It may take 10 days to make the channel operational, he said, adding, the ferry service would improve once the channel was opened.