Zarif Mahmud: Four trawlers stand on the banks of the Buriganga behind the Mitford Hospital in Old Dhaka. The trawlers stand there. Because instead of running them on the river, floating boarding has been made suitable for human habitation. Faridpur Muslim Boarding, Shariatpur Muslim Boarding, Uma Ujala and Buriganga Boarding.
Talking to the locals, it is learned that millions of people visit these centers of trade and commerce of Dhaka in and around Sadarghat. Those who can’t afford to stay in hotels stay in these boarding houses for a day or two. In addition, hawkers, van drivers, day laborers and temporary traders of footpaths in Sadarghat and Badamtali areas work all day and stay on these floating boardings for less money at night.
These four floating boardings can be seen on the banks of the river at Mitford Wharf next to Sadarghat. Faridpur Muslim Boarding has a total of 35 cabins and two floor seats. Each cabin has a bed, pillow, kantha and fan. These small cabins have comfortable bedding. These boardings are rented at Tk 100 for single cabin and Tk 150 for double cabin. Besides, the rent for floor seat is Tk 50 per person. This means that if you pay only Tk 50, you will get the opportunity to spend the night in these boarding houses.
Shariatpur Muslim Boarding standing in the same infrastructure. There are about 40 cabins. Each cabin has electricity, lights and fans. There is a bed for the night. The Uma Ujala boarding on the side is a bit smaller than the other two. A total of 42 people can stay here.
Boarding manager Shamim said, we now have Tk 40 per seat, cabin Tk 100. It has almost all the arrangements for human habitation. Buriganga boarding also has a capacity of 40-50 people. Formerly known as Buriganga Boarding, it was bought by a local man named Sabuj Mia. Since then many people have known it as Sabuj Meer Boarding.
Rickshaw puller Fahad regularly stays at Faridpur Muslim Boarding School. He said that he drives a rickshaw.
There is no ability to stay in the mess. I used to spend the night in front of different shops on rickshaws. I found this hotel through my elder brother. I live here now. Sometimes when there is less money, I stay in the rickshaw again.
There were a few hawkers in the floor seat on the ground floor of the boarding house. They sell fruit in the surrounding area.
“We sell fruit on the side of the road,” they said. It is not possible to stay at home with the money I earn. I live here for Tk 50 daily.
Regarding the facilities, they said, everyone has a key in every room to say security. I eat and drink outside. However, as the river water is dirty, there is a little problem in bathing.
Mostafa Kamal, manager of Faridpur Muslim Boarding told, “I have been the manager here for 20 years. I have never seen any chaos in this floating boarding. Come on in, take a look and enjoy yourself!
Apart from Sadarghat area, people come here from far and wide of Dhaka. Goes in the morning, comes again at night. There are many who stay for months on end. People do not have food. We take care of all the opportunities that a person needs to have.
Regarding housing, Shah Jamal, son of Malik Abdus Sattar, founder of Shariatpur Muslim Boarding told, “My father established it in 1970. This is our floating boarding for the common man for ages. BIWTA is now bringing us from Wise Ghat to Babubazar Ghat. Many people do not know now. Due to this, the number of customers has decreased.
These floating hotels are closed from 2pm to 5am for security reasons. Besides, boarding is open for the rest of the time. Boarding managers are in charge.
Regarding security, SI Rajib, in-charge of Babubazar police outpost, told that he has been seeing this hotel floating in Buriganga for many years. We have never received any complaints about security. They are staying next to Babubazar Ghat on lease from BIWTA.
It is learned that these boardings have been floating in Sadarghat since independence. In the beginning, these were infrastructurally wooden boats. Since 1991, they have been reformed with iron. When the water was lost year after year, it was taken to the dockyard and repaired and repainted.
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