Home ›› 23 Nov 2022 ›› Back

Eight new ferry routes in the offing

Ashif Islam Shaon
23 Nov 2022 00:08:56 | Update: 23 Nov 2022 11:32:20
Eight new ferry routes in the offing
— Representative Photo

In some coastal and southern regions of the country where rivers interrupt road communication, people opt for local water vessels or small ferries though it becomes risky in monsoon.

Communication is time-consuming and difficult in some northern districts too, as the commuters need to go extra miles to reach destinations in absence of standard vessel or ferry services.      

To ease travelling, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) wants to introduce new ferries and modern sea truck-cum-ferry services on eight such routes.

They have proposed to introduce ferry or ferry-cum-sea truck services for the coastal areas like Sandwip, Noakhali, Hatia, Manpura, and Bhola to carry vehicles and passengers from the mainland. At the same time, ferry services will be introduced on rivers in Kurigram, Rajbari, and Pabna to cut distance and travel time. 

“Many of these services may not be commercially viable for now but we will serve the people with modern water vessels to cut time and minimise the risk of travelling. In the future the routes will gain popularity,” BIWTC Ahmed Shamim Al Razi told The Business Post on Tuesday.

The BIWTC has conducted feasibility studies on the eight routes and will place a summary of findings before the stakeholders including the shipping ministry this week.

If the ministry approves the plan, the corporation that owns and operates river vessels and ships will prepare the development project proposal. Five government entities — Roads and Highways Department (RHD), Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), Bangladesh Water Development Board, and the BIWTC — will coordinate to develop necessary infrastructures.    

Sandwip Island to get first ferry service

As there is no ferry service, vehicles cannot go to Sandwip Island from Chattogram mainland. The proposed BIWTC ferries will be in service from the Sitakund terminal at Bakkkhali to Sandwip’s Gachua point. Vehicles from Dhaka will take only four hours to Sitakund and from there one hour via ferry to Sandwip.      

Currently, small launches ply from Sandwip Guptachara Ghat to Kumira in Chattogram.

“We chose Sitakunda instead of Kumira for the ferry ghat to cut distance. We will need to install a pontoon and arrange dredging to keep the route navigable in all seasons.”             

The BIWTC will introduce coastal ferries for this route. These ferries can run during the monsoon in rough seas.

The shipping service between Chattogram and Sandwip will continue as well. The BIWTC will construct two sea trucks that will carry passengers from the island to the ships as the ships cannot anchor at Sandwip jetty for navigability problems.

Patuakhali’s Rangabali to get sea truck-cum-ferry Patuakhali’s Rangabali upazila is located in the chars of the Bay of Bengal with Chalitabunia and Agunmukha rivers and Char Biswas in the north, Ramnabad Channel and Kalapara upazila in the west, Char Kurri-Mukri in Char Fasson upazila in the east and Bay of Bengal in the south.

BIWTC sources said people go to this upazila from Boalia area of Golachipa upazila by boats as there is no way to transport vehicles to Rangabali. BIWTC has proposed to set up ferry ghats at Boalia point and Koralia point in Rangabali. The sea truck-cum-ferry will be able to carry passengers and vehicles in a short time.

Four more routes in Southern districts

There will be a ferry service on Bamna-Badnikhali route in Barguna. Crossing Bishkhali river utility ferries will take 40 minutes. Once introduced, the ferries will take vehicles from Bamna upazila to Betagi upazila in a shorter time.

Another ferry service is going to be introduced in Barguna on Bagibazar-Chalitatoli route, establishing direct communication from Barguna to Taltoli.

Another ferry route will be established on the Noakhali-Bhola route, connecting Chairmanghat of Noakhali with Hatia, Manpura and Tamujuddin of Bhola.

Kurigram’s Rowmari-Chilmari to be connected     

Currently, vehicles travel 337 kilometers from Kurigram to Dhaka via Bangabandhu Bridge. If these vehicles could use the Rowmari-Chilmari route via Sherpur it would need to travel 257 kilometers only. Besides, large trawlers carry more than 700 passengers and 400 tonnes of goods every day to Chilmari from Rowmari point as there is no ferry service.

Officials said that the BIWTA has a pontoon at Rowmari but the route needs to be dredged from November to March to introduce the ferry service. Besides, they will need to improve connecting roads’ conditions to ensure vehicle access.