Returnees from southwestern districts endure 12-hour journeys

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At the end of the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday, people in the southwestern districts have started returning to their work stations in the capital, but the journey is taking more than 12 hours for many due to the traffic jam at Daulatdia ferry terminal.

Shariful Islam, a trader from Barishal lying on the bonnet of a bus bound for Dhaka on Sunday morning, said he left home around 7:00 p.m. Saturday and got on the bus around 9:00 p.m., reports the ‘A B.

His bus stood still two miles from the terminal as he spoke to the news agency.

Like Shariful, hundreds of passengers were seen waiting to cross the river as the long traffic jam of vehicles on the Dhaka-Khulna highway traversed six kilometers and grew longer by the hour.

To reduce pressure on the terminal, police started stopping vehicles 13 kilometers from the terminal near Ahladipur area in Rajbari sadar upazila. Hundreds of private vehicles reached the terminal crossing an additional eight kilometer path from Padmar Mor and the Jamidar Bridge area via Ujan Char and Char Daulatdia.

Some drivers complained that local influencers and brokers were charging extra fees to drivers of vehicles loaded with police assistance because they had priority crossing the river.

Abul Bashar, a fruit vendor in Barguna, said he started around 8 p.m. with 22 tonnes of watermelons in a covered van bound for Dhaka and got stuck in traffic around 11 p.m.

He said, “I had to pick up a ticket that paid 4,000 Tk instead of the usual 1,800 Tk because they allowed us to pass specially. Yet many of my watermelons perished due to 13 long hours of waiting in the middle of the heat.

According to the Daulatdia office of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), 11,593 vehicles crossed the Padma River in the past 24 hours till 06:00 a.m. Sunday by ferry from the Daulatdia terminal.

Md Shihab Uddin, BIWTA Daulatdia office manager, said a record number of vehicles crossed the river from this terminal in 24 hours.

“Saturday noon, two of the 21 ferries operating on the Daulatdia-Paturia route became inactive, but both resumed operations in the evening. Currently, all the ferries are operating from five terminals, but due to worn roads and increased pressure from all vehicles on the Shimulia-Banglabazar route, there is a long traffic jam,” the BIWTA official said.

Meanwhile, about 30,000 passengers crossed the river by 166 launches from the Daulatdia terminal, said Nurul Anwar, spokesman for the Aricha Launch Owners Association in Daulatdia.

He said that after 10:00 p.m. Saturday launch trips had been reduced in light of the risks, as most launches were carrying almost double their passenger capacity.

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