Najirganj-Joukura Ferry Services: Poor navigability in Padma falters Pabna-Rajbari communications
Near about a thousand people travelling every day on Pabna-Rajbari road are facing immense sufferings as ferry services between Najirganj and Joukura points, over the mighty Padma river, remain suspended over the last couple of months due to poor navigability.
Roads and Highways Department (RHD) operates the service, but they do not have the capacity to maintain navigability of a river through dredging, said AKM Samsuzzoha, executive engineer of RHD in Pabna.
With the service suspended, many people are risking their lives to cross the river at Najirganj and Joukura points on dinghies, engine boats and ramshackle motor launches.
Enamul Haque, from Rajbari Sadar upazila, said he commutes on the route two times a week, from Rajbari to his work in Pabna, as the distance between Rajbari and Pabna Sadar upazila via Najirganj and Joukura is only 47 kilometres.
"If I wanted to get to Rajbari district on bus via Kushtia, I would have to travel at least 80 to 100 kilometres. So, to cut the distance short, I prefer crossing the river at Najirganj and Joukura ghats."
Ever since the ferry services got suspended, he has been crossing the river on a boat or a launch, he added.
"When the ferry services were available, it would cost only Tk 50. But now, taking advantage of the situation, boat and launch operators are charging Tk 80 to 100," said another frequent traveller, Mohammad Ronny, from Aphra village of Rajbari.
Nurul Islam, manager of Najirganj-Joukura ferry services, said they used to operate ferries four times a day and 20 to 25 buses used to carry over a thousand passengers every day.
Poor navigability started to disrupt the services from March and they finally had to suspend the services around mid-September, he added.
Asked how they intend to restore the ferry services, AKM Samsuzzoha, the RHD executive engineer in Pabna, said since they are unable to dredge the Padma river, they were exploring options to relocate the ferry docks.
However, the process might take some time, he also said.