Photos: Prabir Das
"It's undoubtedly a fantastic project and I along with my family members have enjoyed the trip greatly!” says 50-year-old banker Mohammad Firoz Alam Khan, after taking a water-taxi trip at the recent Hatirjheel water taxi service. The service was launched on December 16, 2016 – the 45th Victory Day of Bangladesh. As part of the Hatirjheel development project, the service was launched to ease commuting to adjacent areas, including Rampura and Badda, along with the beautification purposes.
“Since I obtained GPA-5 in my Primary School Certificate (PSC) exam, my father offered me this boat trip!” says 12-year-old K M Ferdous Alam Khan, the son of Firoz Alam. “We have successfully explored the beautiful Hatirjheel!”
Within a very short period, the Hatirjheel water taxi service has successfully been able to attract an extensive number of visitors and regular commuters from different areas of the city. People crowding to buy tickets and the long queue for boarding these water taxis shows a booming response to this latest project.
“Every day, on an average, ten to fifteen hundred tickets are sold, tripling during holidays,” says Mohammad Abul Kalam, a ticket checker of the 'Karim Group', the company responsible for managing this water taxi service.
Currently, a total of four water vessels are being operated within the two routes—one from FDC to Badda link road and the other from FDC to Rampura. While FDC to Badda link road costs around 30 takas, to Rampura would cost 25 takas. One can enjoy the service from 6 am in the morning, until 10 pm at night. Each taxi has an arrangement for accommodating 30 passengers at a time, including eight seats for women and disabled passengers.
“The water taxi service has eased the commuting to Karwan Bazar, Moghbazar, Eskaton, Bangla Motor and Tejgaon areas from Badda, Gulshan, Rampura, and other nearby parts of the city,” says 60-year old Nazir Ali, a local resident of Hatirjheel area. “Since, there is no rickshaw service available from Rampura to Kawran Bazar area and the number of buses is also insufficient, the water taxis have solved the problem greatly.”
On the other hand, many believe that besides regular commuting, the service has generated a significant attention to the visitors, who come to explore the Hatirjheel area with friends and family.
“We will be introducing six more vessels – two at the end of January, two in February and two in March, so that the visitors can enjoy a hassle free service, instead of waiting,” assures Major Kazi Shakil Hossain, project officer of the Hatirjheel-Begunbari Integrated Lake Development Project. To ensure maximum safety of passengers, the required number of life jackets is also available.
In spite of having some issues – namely a bad smell from the polluted waters, one would still appreciate the water taxi service. It seems that many more 'fun' features will be added soon. Good news for commuters and visitors alike!