Dhaka,  Tuesday
18 June 2024

Brahmaputra ferry services suspended for two months

Rafi Islam, Chilmari

Published: 08:38, 2 March 2024

Brahmaputra ferry services suspended for two months

Photo : Messenger

The ferry service on the Chilmari-Rowmari waterway of the Brahmaputra River in Chilmari, Kurigram, has been suspended for nearly two months (46 days) due to safety concerns related to an old culvert in the Kutirchar area. The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has deemed the culvert risky for further use, prompting the halt in ferry operations.

Despite the prolonged suspension of the ferry service, no action has been taken by the local government's engineering department to address the issue. This lack of action has raised concerns among many residents, who fear that the extended cessation of ferry operations may lead to the natural closure of the excavated channel of the river.

It has been reported that, under the initiative of BIWTA, the Chilmari-Rowmari waterway has been facilitating regular transportation of various types of cargo, including freight cars, via two ferries. Despite the ongoing navigability crisis caused by the decrease in water levels of the Brahmaputra River, BIWTA has been taking proactive measures to ensure continued transport operations. By regularly dredging channels, BIWTA has successfully addressed the navigational challenges, leading to the swift popularity of this route for goods transportation in the northern region.

As a result of these efforts, approximately 30-40 cargo transports have been traversing this route every day, connecting various parts of the country, including the capital. This efficient transportation network has not only facilitated the movement of goods but has also played a crucial role in sustaining economic activities and meeting the needs of businesses and communities in the region.

Currently, an old box culvert located 2 km from Rowmari Ferry Port, in the Kutirchar area, poses a significant risk to the safety of travelers. Due to concerns regarding the stability of the culvert, the ferry crossing at Chilmari-Rowmari Ferry Port has been closed since January 13th. In response to this safety hazard, makeshift measures, such as placing thick wood on top of the culvert, are being employed to facilitate light traffic and pedestrian crossings. However, heavy traffic is not permitted to traverse the culvert due to safety concerns.

The closure of the ferry crossing has led to inconvenience for residents and travelers in the area. Many are attributing the halt in ferry traffic to the perceived negligence of the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED). The construction of the culvert has reportedly remained unfinished for 46 days, exacerbating the situation and prolonging the disruption to transportation services.

Upon visiting the Ferry Port area on Wednesday afternoon (28th February), it was observed that no cargo transports were awaiting the ferry, as the ferry service had been suspended for 46 days. Residents such as Md. Ripon Miah, Shafiqul Islam, Maqbul Hossain, and others reported that numerous transports had been turned away due to the closure of the ferry service.

Rezaul Karim, Master Officer of the Ferry Kunjalta, disclosed that authorities had placed sand under the bridge as a temporary measure. However, no alternative road has been constructed yet. He further stated that the ferry service would remain suspended until the issue with the bridge is resolved.

Ferry Port Manager (Commercial) Prafulla Chauhan said that if an alternative road is made by the side of the culvert, the ferry service will start.