Endless misery at Daulatdia ferry ghat

Vehicles waiting in a long queue at the Daulatdia ghat on SaturdayM Rashedul Haque

“I can't take it anymore. I've fallen sick stuck in the bus in such muggy weather. I’ve become so weak,” 60-year-old Shamsunnahar Begum wailed while sitting on a Dhaka-bound bus at the Daulatdia ferry ghat.

Like Shamsunnahar, there are hundreds of people who are going through endless sufferings at the ferry ghat and falling sick while waiting for hours in long queues for a ferry to cross the Padma River.

A four-kilometer queue of vehicles, stretching from the ferry ghat to Wajed Chowdhury Technical School and College, was seen while visiting the Daulatdia area on Saturday afternoon.

Multiple sources at Daulatdia ghat said there was a shortage in the number of ferries and ghats and the increased pressure of vehicles added to the woes ahead of Eid.

Most of the freight trucks are now trying to reach their destinations in advance as the ghat authorities would suspend ferrying vehicles carrying goods for three days before and after Eid.

However, an extra pressure of vehicles was seen on both sides of the river on Saturday as ferry operations remained suspended for around 1 hour due to the nor’wester on the previous evening.

Freight trucks, covered vans and passenger buses were seen waiting in the four-kilometer queue. Of them, the passenger buses and perishable goods-laden trucks were being transported on priority basis, but it also was taking around five hours for them to get on a ferry.

On the other hand, the trucks loaded with non-perishable commodities had to wait from 10 to 12 hours to get a ferry.

The drivers, staff and passengers were getting tired and falling sick frequently being stuck under the hot sun for hours.

An elderly woman was getting off a bus with the help of some others at Canal Ghat area of Daulatdia around 2:00 pm. Another woman – Kamrunnahar -- was slowly making her way to the sideway.

Introducing the elderly woman as her mother-in-law, Kamrunnahar said the her mother-in-law has been sick for some days and they were going to Dhaka for her treatment. But her physical condition worsened as she had to sit in the bus for hours to get on a ferry.

She was being taken under a roadside tree so that she feels better, said Kamrunnahar.

In a separate case, Rezaul Islam, the driver of a long-haul bus from Satkhira, said they have to wait around three hours under the scorching sun to cross the last two kilometers towards the ghat.

“We are still two kilometers away from the ghat and it may take two or three hours more to get on a ferry. The passengers are falling sick while waiting for long under the scorching sun,” he said.

Md Selim Hossain, a covered van driver, started his journey for Panchdona of Narsingdi from Jashore on Friday. The traffic police stopped him after he had reached Goalunda intersection in the immediate evening. He was stuck in the same place until 2pm on Saturday.

In conversation with Prothom Alo on the Daulatdia Union Parishad premises, he said, “I have been stuck in the same place for around five hours. It seems that I won’t be able to get on a ferry today.”

To deal with the excessive pressure of vehicles during Eid, the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) installed a pontoon on the ghat-6 at Daulatdia on Saturday, around eight months after setting up of the ghat. However, it was yet to start operation.

The manager of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation’s (BIWTC) Daulatdia office, Md Shihab Uddin, said a total of 17 ferries are now operating on the Daulatdia-Paturia route.

“A pontoon has been installed at the ghat-6 this morning. Now the connecting road is being repaired,” he said on Saturday, adding that the ghat would start operation within one or two days.