Twenty-five families, who have kept the boat-making craftsmanship alive for smooth movement in the monsoon, are struggling to keep their heads above water in summer.
Residents of the densely-populated deltaic country face difficulty moving in the rainy season when many roads go under water in low-lying areas. Boats then become an essential tool for commuting, particularly in remote villages.But boat making is now a dying art. Fortunately, some members of 25 families in Dahar Ramsidhi village in Bashgram union of Narail Sadar upazila have kept the profession of making boats alive for generations.
The people of the area throng the boat market every year ahead of monsoon and buy different types of wooden boats every Wednesday. The artisans display at least 70 to 80 boats every week.
Boat craftsman Nikhil Biswas, 50, of Ramsidhi said the people of his village have been making boats for many generations.
They make boats for five months (Bengali month Ashar to Kartik) for their survival but face trouble when the demand for boats decline in summer, he added.
Craftsmen Shishir Shikder, 65, and Swapan Shikder of the village said making a boat needs three labourers. “A boat can be smoothly used for two years but using tar can prolong the period to five years,” he said.
Sushen Mollick, 35, of the village said nowadays the demand for boats is declining and profit from making boats is also not enough.Another boat artisan Sanjoy Biswas said it costs about Tk 3,000 to make a small boat. “The profit is not enough for livelihood if a boat is sold for Tk 3,500 to Tk 4,000,” he added.
SM Nadim Hossain, deputy administrator of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) in Narail, said he has already heard about the boat-making industry.
He said they will discuss providing loans to the boat artisans.
“I'll contact the craftsmen soon and will speak with higher officials about helping the people involved in this profession,” he added.