Crowds of homebound people increased at Dhaka’s river port Sadarghat Terminal, marking Eid-ul-Azha. Despite there being directives not to carry extra passengers on launches, most of the launch authorities are not complying. Passengers were seen crowding on the roofs of launches.

The pressure of passengers at Sadarghat terminal started growing since early morning Friday. Carrying their baggage, passengers were boarding the launches with their familes and relatives to reach their desired destinations. Many were sitting on the pontoon with their belongings.

Since morning, there was extra pressure of passengers on launches plying on 43 routes of the southern region compared to other days. The launches Patuakhali-bound MV Pubali-5, MV Sundaraban, MV Jamal-5, MV Kuakata-1; Barguna-bound MV Shahrukh-2; Charfesson-bound MV Farhan-6, Farhan-3 and Hatia-bound MV Sabbir-1 were seen carrying passengers on the rooftop.

Meanwhile, a crisis of Patuakhali-bound launches was noticed at the terminal towards the afternoon. At the time, passengers kept waiting at the terminal. Once Patuakhali-bound launches started arriving at the terminal later in the afternoon, passengers rushed to them. However, due to the opening of Padma Bridge there is comparatively less pressure of Eid vacationers at the Sadarghat terminal this time.

It was learnt through Sadarghat terminal sources, in between 5.00am to 6.00pm on Friday a total of 89 launches docked at the terminal and 86 of them sailed away.

Mukul Mia, a passenger of a Patuakhali-bound launch said, there are sufficient launches for passengers at the Sadarghat terminal. However, he found no launch of that route, upon arrival. Then along with his family he waited for the launch. Later, when the launch arrived towards the afternoon, he got tickets and boarded.

Meanwhile centering the issue of picking up passengers, a clash broke out between the workers of Hatia-bound launches Farhan-3 and Karnaphuli at around 9.30am on Friday.

When BIWTA officials got to know about it, they detained four accused workers of the launch Farhan-3. Detainees got out, after they signed a bond saying they won’t be working in any launches at the Sadarghat area.

Hamzalal, owner of launch MV Obhijan said, passengers are being charged the government-fixed fare. No extra fare is being collected. The number of passengers at the terminal is low. Yet, the fixed fare is being collected. Passenger’s allegation of charging extra fare is inaccurate.

Md Shahidullah, joint-director of Dhaka river port for BIWTA’s marine safety and traffic management department said, the employees of Farhan-3 and Karnaphuli launches got involved in a clash on Friday morning.

He added, crowds of Chandpur, Patuakhali and Hatia-bound passengers started growing since morning. Several launches started about an hour prior to their scheduled departure.

Sovan Rangsa, executive magistrate of BIWTA said, passengers climbed on the roof of some launches due to extreme heat. But, they were brought down. Launches can sail carrying extra passengers and baggage under no circumstances.

Faridul Islam, additional DIG of River Police told Prothom Alo, to ensure smooth movement and safety of the home-bound people on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha, members of the law and order agencies including river police, coast guard, RAB and Ansar have taken strict security measures in the terminal area and in the river.

He further added, launches are sailing once they are full. Launches are not being allowed to carry extra passengers and goods, under risky conditions. Launches have to follow the government guidelines.