Shimulia-Kathalbari: Ferry services suspended as water level falls
Ferry service on Shimulia-Kathalbari river route has been suspended due to lack of navigability, affecting people from 21 southern districts and resulting in long tailbacks.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) stopped the service on the river route at 5:30 pm yesterday and are currently looking for an alternative route.
The current route falls right on the Dhaka-Mawa-Khulna Highway, known as the gateway to the 21 districts.
The suspension has made uncertain the trips of several hundred VIPs who use the ferry to go to Tungipara to offer Fateha at the mazar of Bangabandhu on August 15.
Homebound passengers on the occasion of Eid may also face difficulties if the service remains suspended.
Assistant General Manager (AGM) of BIWTC Khandker Shah Khaled Newaz said a depth of seven to eight feet of water was required for the movement of ferries on the channel, but at present the depth was only 5 feet. So they were forced to stop the service.
He said BIWTA had dredged the channel but it did not help.
Newaz said they have requested the vessels to take an alternative route. But the other option, known as Bikolpo channel, located a kilometre downstream from the main Louhajang point, is also unusable.
He said at least an average of 3,000 vehicles ply through this route every day, adding that the pressure would now fall on Paturia ghat. He also said they were sending four ferries, including three Ro-Ro ferries, to Paturia from Shimulia but they were not sure when the dredging would be completed and services resumed.
Meanwhile, more than 500 vehicles, including goods-laden trucks remain stranded at the terminal.
Mawa's Traffic Inspector Siddiqur Rahman said the suspension of ferry services has resulted in congestion at the terminal and the number of vehicles had been increasing. He added that quick steps have to be taken.
BIWTA Executive Engineer (Dredging) ASM Arefin yesterday said an alternative route was being marked. OC of Mawa river police outpost Arman Hossain said the security at the area had also been intensified.