Staff Correspondent: Though the number of passengers heading to greater Barishal has reduced due to the Padma Bridge, the Sadarghat launch terminal of the Dhaka will face unusual pressure of homebound people during the upcoming Eid.
Around 30 lakh people from Dhaka and surrounding districts will leave for coastal districts on waterways. Among them, at least 27 lakh will pass through Sadarghat launch terminal with 3 lakh people on average daily in 9 days, according to a report of the National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways.
Its president Mohammad Shahid Mia and its general secretary Ashis Kumar Dey yesterday published the summary of the report through a press release.
The National Committee has recommended raising the number of vessels in alternative way by the government to handle the pressure of additional passengers and ensure hassle-free and safe Eid journey.
The report said, about 1.5 crore people leave Dhaka, Gazipur and Narayanganj during Eid-ul-Fitr each year.
Among them, 37.50 lakh (25 percent) travel on waterways. Almost cent percent of these passengers are from the coastal districts of Barisal, Pirojpur, Jhalkathi, Barguna, Bhola, Patuakhali, Chandpur, Shariatpur and Madaripur, it said.
The civic organisation said after opening the Padma Bridge in last June, the rate of waterway passengers of coastal districts, excluding Chandpur, has decreased by about 20 percent; which is 5 percent of the total Eid holidaymakers.
As a result, 30 lakh people (20 percent of the total passengers) will go by launch during this Eid and at least 27 lakh of them will go through Dhaka river port.
According to the report, the rush of home-bound people will start from April 13, the last working day of the previous week. All waterway passengers from greater Dhaka region will go home in 9 days from 13 to 21 April (the day before Eid).
As a result, 3 lakh people will pass through Sadarghat terminal every day and the remaining passengers will use Narayanganj river port.
Referring to the crisis of navigability, the report said that there were 41 waterways officially from Dhaka to various destinations.
However, at least 15 waterways have apparently already been abandoned due to navigability crisis and lack of passengers.
Quoting the shortage of vessels, the national committee said that a maximum of 70 launches regularly operat on the remaining 26 waterways. This number will increase to around 180 before Eid. Out of this, 90 vessels will depart from Sadarghat for various destinations and 90 will arrive from different places.
The civic organisation also said, if 3 lakh passengers are carried in 90 launches every day, one launch will carry almost 3 500 passengers on an average. But none of the launches has a capacity of more than 2,000 people. Even many launches have passenger capacity of less than 1,000. In addition, in three days before Eid, the crowd will increase one and a half times more.
Many launches carry double to triple passengers beyond the capacity to handle the pressure. As a result, additional passengers will be carried on roof and deck, the report said.
The organization stressed the need for taking appropriate measures by the authorities concerned to reduce the risks of waterway accidents and public sufferings.
It urged the authorities concerned, including the law enforcement agencies to ensure maximum surveillance and tight security on the waterways and the terminals.
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