A total of 151 speedboats and 87 launches are registered under Shimula ghat which employs several thousand people
Photo: Moinuddin Sumon
Photo: Moinuddin Sumon
The people concerned in these terminals demand rehabilitation through the creation of alternative jobs.
Fruit merchant Shahjalal said the daily sale at the terminal was good. “I used to sell for 30-35,000 Tk of fruits per day. But today I earned 5,000 Tk from selling fruits. A few shops have already been closed. I wonder what to do next .”
Hasan Mollah, a hotelier at Ilias Ahmed Chowdhury Ghat, said, “I have been involved in hospitality here since childhood. With 18 employees, my hotel’s daily sale was around Tk 50,000.”
“I earned 6,000 Tk today (Monday). I have fired 15 employees so far. I think I have to close my business. I don’t know what to do,” he added.
According to the tenants of the terminal and the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) office, there are 211 commercial establishments including 37 hotels, 39 fruit shops and 54 tea stalls at Ilias Ahmed Chowdhury ghat in Madaripur. The Sattar Madbar-Mangalmajhir ghat in Shariatpur has about 144 businesses including 11 hotels, 7 fruit shops and 29 tea stalls.
No less than 1,100 people are employed in 86 launches and 250 speedboats registered under these two terminals. Another 1,000 people are involved in toll collection, loading and unloading of goods.
Al Amin, a resident of Naodoba, has been earning his living transporting passengers’ luggage to the launch terminal for 12 years. He is now sick with worry about his only means of earning a living.
“I’m responsible for my mother and my little sister at home. Being a porter is all I know. If the speedboats stop, I have to go fishing or do some agricultural work, I guess,” said he declared.
Md Shahadat Hossain, Deputy Director and Port Officer of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), assured that initiatives are being taken by the water transport regulator and the Ministry of Merchant Marine to rehabilitate vessels and people concerned.
“Efforts are underway to find an alternative domestic route. In addition, arrangements will also be made to operate the river port of Shimulia in case of passenger demand,” he added.