Ferry shortage cripples Pabna-Aricha route
Over five hundred vehicles, mostly trucks loaded with goods, have been stranded near Kazirhaat ferry terminal in Pabna's Bera upazila and Aricha ferry terminal in Manikganj over the past several days.
The highway on both sides of the terminals is seeing the gridlock due to a shortage in the number of operational ferries.
Officials at Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) said only one ferry is currently serving the route as three out of total four ferries designated for the route went out of service after sustaining damage.
They also said they were hopeful of bringing in a ferry from Paturia terminal to ease pressure of vehicles on the route.
While visiting Kazirhaat ferry terminal on Saturday morning, several hundred vehicles, mostly trucks, were seen waiting to board a ferry. The drivers said they had been waiting there for at least a day.
"I came to Kazirhaat ferry ghat from Jessore on Thursday night, on my way to Dhaka via Aricha ferry ghat. Now it's morning on Saturday, but unfortunately, I am yet to catch a ferry," said Asif Hossain, a truck driver. "The ferry shortage is wasting our time and money."
While several hundred loaded vehicles are stranded on both sides of the ferry terminals for hours, only one ferry is operating in such a busy route, he sighed.
Poor maintenance is mostly causing frequent breakdowns of the ferries, alleged many truckers who frequent the route.
BIWTC officials, however, said the situation arises when ferries go out of service due to "technical faults".
"Four ferries are scheduled to run in the Kazirhaat-Aricha route. But two ferries -- Begum Rokeya and Begum Sufia -- had been running in this route. When Begum Sufia was down with technical fault on Friday, the immense pressure of vehicles is being met with the only working ferry," explained Mahbubur Rahman, manager of Kazirhaat ferry terminal.
In order to ease the pressure of vehicles on the Kazirhaat-Aricha route, they were in the process of bringing in the Khan Jahan Ali from Paturia, he added.
Aside from ferry shortage, the service also gets hampered when the roads to Kazirhaat and Aricha ferry terminals get submerged by rising water in the Jamuna river, a BIWTC official said.
After the road to Kazirhaat ferry terminal was submerged a week ago, the terminal was shifted 200 metres away from its previous place on Friday. The road to Aricha ferry terminal also went under water on Friday.
The submerged road is also slowing down vehicular movement, he added.