The opening of the Padma Bridge to traffic has left several launch and ferry stations, which helped people of both sides cross the mighty river, empty on Sunday, a day after the inauguration of the long-cherished bridge.
Passenger turnout on Banglabazar in Madaripur and Shimulia in Munshiganj has decreased though the launch and speedboat operation on the popular route has remained normal.
Alamgir Hossain, the driver of the MV Rodela launch at Banglabazar Ghat, said the launches and speedboats have been leaving the ghat as per the government’s instructions since morning though the number of passengers has decreased sharply.
According to sources at Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Banglabazar ghat, there was the pressure of passengers and vehicles till the inauguration of the Padma Bridge on Saturday. But then the turnout declined on Sunday.
BIWTA’s Banglabazar Launch Ghat Inspector Akter Hossain said, “There is no instruction to stop operating the launches. We have allowed 100 passengers on each launch and told staff to ensure quality services.”
Passengers were seen crossing the Padma River comfortably through launches and speedboats due to fewer passengers and vehicles in the ghat.
“With the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, the pressure on the waterways has eased a bit. I have crossed the river without any hassle,” Habibur Rahman, a passenger from Jajira in Shariatpur, said at Shimulia ghat.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) closed the ferry crossing the on Shimulia-Majhikandi route on the occasion of the Padma Bridge inauguration on Friday evening.
Ferry operation was supposed to resume on Sunday morning but no ferry reached or left the ghat on the day. BIWTC’s Shimulia Ghat Manager (trade) Jamal Hossain said the number of vehicles and passengers has dropped since the opening of Padma Bridge.
Majhikandi ghat was seen empty in absence of vehicles and passengers on Sunday. There were no buses, cars or trucks. Only a few CNG-run autorickshaws were waiting for passengers there.
Shopkeepers at the ghat did not open their shops while some of them were shifting their stores elsewhere. However, there were some people in the launch ghat next to the Majhikandi ferry ghat.
The pressure of passengers at Daulatdia in Rajbari and Paturia in the Manikganj route has also eased.
Daulatdia Ghat and the highway were almost empty from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm on Sunday as there was no crowd of homebound people there. The ferries were waiting for passengers and vehicles to cross.
BIWTC’s Daulatdia Ghat Manager (trade) Shihab Uddin said there was no pressure in the ghat since the inauguration of the Padma Bridge.
“Nineteen out of 21 small and big ferries are plying on the Daulatdia-Paturia waterway. Two dump (pulled) ferries have been set up at the ghat due to a lack of vehicles. Most of the running ferries are leaving the ghat after waiting long hours for passengers,” he said.