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Bangladesh - February 14, 2022

Millions cross river by boat for work in capital

Staff Correspondent:About 1.5 million of people cross the river Buriganga and Shitalakshya by boat and trawler every day for work from Jingira to Sadarghat side of Buriganga and Narayanganj. Similarly, they back home in the evening on the same way.
Four bridges have built on the rivers but the distance in communication has dependent the people on the river crafts as yet. The river crossing system was established before 1500 years before while Dhaka set up as capital of East Bengal. Experts said the river crossing by boat will never end.
When jute was the main product of Bangladesh in the export industry, Narayanganj was known as the ‘Dandi of the East’ Over time, this district near Dhaka is now well known for its knit garments and hosiery industry. Although the economic identity of Narayanganj has changed due to the turning point of the economy, it has remained in the previous position in one aspect of communication system.
An important upazila Bandar of Narayanganj district.
Several wards of this upazila also fall within the city corporation. Even though it is inside the city corporation, the residents of Bandar upazila still have to cross the Shitalakshya river by boat or trawler to reach Narayanganj town. Every day about five lakh people cross the river by boat or trawler.
The port area of Narayanganj has been visited, every minute a kind of stream of people to cross the winter target by boat or trawler. One trawler after another crowded the wharf and it was full again without having to evacuate the passengers. As a result, the trawler workers did not get a chance to rest even for a minute. The same situation is with most boatmen. Without getting passengers from one side or the other, they got passengers to go to the other side.
Shitalakshya can be crossed in a minute or two by trawler. And it takes three to four minutes to cross the winter target by boat. Passengers have to pay two rupees to go to the trawler. The boat rental is five rupees per person. However, if you go to the reserve, you have to pay Tk 40 for the boat. Bargaining can also be done at a lower rate in certain cases.
Passengers crossed the boat in winter for more than a century. Liaquat Majhi. “There are about 400 boatmen like me,” he said. There are about three hundred boats. I have raised children by boat here. I have already married two sons. I married my daughter a year ago. I passed BA to my daughter before getting married. Now I can’t rent a boat like before.
He said earlier the boat rent was Tk two. Now the rent has increased to Tk five. But now the income is less than before. A boatman can earn Tk 400 to Tk 500 a day. Boat fares are now lower due to trawlers. Every day four and a half to five lakh people cross Shitalakshya through here. Of these, 60 to 70 thousand come and go by boat. The remaining three-and-a-half lakhs traveled in trawlers.
Asked if it costs money to operate a boat here, he said, “We build boat docks with our own pocket money.” We buy all the wood and bamboo we need and repair the ghats ourselves. We don’t have to pay any money for this. A few of the sailors here have their own boats. Run most rented boats. The hired boatmen have to pay Tk 120 per day to the owner. In that case, most of the middlemen do not have more than four hundred rupees in their pockets.
Hamedul Hasan, a resident of Ward 22 of Narayanganj City Corporation, said, “I run a cloth business. I have to go to Narayanganj every day for business. We have no choice but to go by boat or trawler. Millions of people like me travel like this every day. The number of people going and coming in boats and trawlers every day like us will be around five lakhs. Thus, it is risky to travel by boat or trawler.
While crossing Shitalakshya in a trawler, I talked to a person named Mazharul Islam. “It’s normal for us to cross the river in boats or trawlers,” he said. This is how we travel every day. Many businesses in the main town of Narayanganj are within the port police station. Again, many people from the port area go to Narayanganj city to do business. Every day millions of people cross the river in boats or trawlers to meet their needs.

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