The ferry operation authority plans to launch new routes in different parts of the country to continue the revenue income from ferries services following the inauguration of the Padma Bridge. To this end, 19 routes have already been identified.
According to Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation or BIWTC, there are eight ferries plying on the Shimulia-Kathalbari route and 21 on the Paturia-Daulatdia route.
Three to four thousand vehicles used to cross the Shimulia-Kathalbari route and seven to eight thousand vehicles crossed the Paturia-Daulatdia route daily. The Shimulia-Kathalbari ferry service on average earned Tk 100 crore and Paturia-Daulatdia ferry service is Tk 250 crore every year, which is the major revenue sources of BIWTC.
However, the revenue has declined after the inauguration of the Padma Bridge. Discussions have started on what will happen to the ferries and vessels right now.
BIWTC sources said that even the Padma Bridge is opened, the ferries on the Shimulia-Kathalbari route will continue to operate till the upcoming holy Eid-ul-Azha. It will be diverted to other routes after Eid in phases. The number of ferries on the Paturia-Daulatdia water route will also be reduced.
BIWTC Director S M Ashiquzzaman said, “We have worked on a few new routes. We will relocate the ferries plying across the Padma River to new routes. However, the ferries will remain in operation until Eid-ul-Azha festival holidays. If there is any traffic jam for any reason, the ferry will be used.”
Earlier, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury has said that the ferry terminal at Shimulia will remain open even after the inauguration of Padma Bridge. He said if the Padma Bridge is opened, a river-centric tourist center will be set up. Demand for ferries will increase at Shimulia Ghat.
Mentioning that a tourist-centric ecozone will be set up at Shimulia, he said “It will create employment. No one will be unemployed. No one will be unemployed during the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.”
According to the Ministry of Shipping, 19 new ferry routes have already been identified to operate the Ferry. In addition, the number of ferries will be increased on the current route.
Notable among the proposed routes are Balasi Ghat in Gaibandha to Bahadurabad in Jamalpur, Aricha in Manikganj to Naradha in Pabna, Charkhali to Bekutia in Pirojpur, Cox's Bazar to Moheshkhali, Hijla to Mehendiganj in Barisal and Barguna to Amtali. The list also includes ferry routes from Bhurungamari in Kurigram to Jamalpur.
There is also demand to start ferry route from Chattagram to Sandwip. Discussions are also underway to provide a ferry route from Hatia in Noakhali to Tajumuddin via Monpura in Bhola.
According to BIWTC sources, the priority list for launching a new ferry route is the Roumari to Chilmari route on the Jamuna River in Kurigram. After introducing the ferry on this route, the communication system of Jamalpur, Sherpur, Mymensingh, Netrokona and Kishoreganj with the northern region will be easier.
Besides, after launching ferry on Aricha-Khairchar route, the distance from Pabna and Ishwardi to Dhaka via Jamuna Bridge will be reduced at least 80 km.
After inaugurates of the Padma Bridge on June 25, the use of launches operating in the area has decreased.
“Currently, 70 to 75 launches are operating on Shimulia-Kathalbari route. Owners are worried about where to use these launches. However, discussions are underway to take the launches on another route, especially in the north region of the country,” sources said.