People of Barishal returning to capital after Eid -The Asian Age

After celebrating Eid with families people are starting to return their workplace seen crowding the Barishal port area on Saturday.

Many private launch passengers missed their trips as overloaded vessels forced to leave the port earlier than the scheduled time.

Ajmal Huda deputy director (river safety and transportation) Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority and Mithu Sarkar Barisal River Port officer said as per their assumptions more than four lakh passengers arrived in Barishal trough waterways to observe the vacation of Eid ul Fitr this year.

A large number of Eid passengers left Barisal on June 7 to avoid heavy rush. So the rush of Dhaka-bound passengers mostly seen on Friday and Saturday. A control room opened at the terminal to monitor the situation.

Administrative magistrate and assistant commissioner of river traffic police, with huge numbers of police, armed battalions and RAB engaged in duty to tackle the situation, discipline, safety and security of the passengers. Volunteers of Bangladesh Scouts and different law enforcing agencies helped the port authority for safe boarding of female, children and old-aged passengers on due vessels.

Cabin passengers of the launches were requested to take seat 3-4 hours before the scheduled time, as the port authority asked the overloaded launches to leave the station two to three hours before the scheduled time.    

Saidur Rahman Rintu, vice president of Barisal launch owners association, acknowledging the facts said that the capacity of each of the 13-17 triple-deck launches plying on regular and special Eid service on Barisal-Dhaka-Barisal river route was limited from 750 to 1,240 passengers' per-launch.However those plied on Friday and Saturday night with 2,500-4000 passengers on board with great risk and dangers for the transport, life and properties of the owners and passengers.

Huge number of passengers even after reaching at the port within regular time scheduled for departure of Dhaka bound water transports, failed to board on the vessels as law enforcing agency ordered to sail overloaded launches earlier for safety and security of the passengers, some passengers alleged.

Sultana Begum a member of a team of thirty one garment workers told The Asian Age that they took the risk of boarding on overloaded launches as there was no alternative which has the lowest fare and easiest journey without affecting working hour.

Masudur Rahman, a govt. official came to Barishal ghat along with six members of his family from Hizla upazila said that Sunday would be on his working day and so he managed some narrow space on the deck of Parabat-11 by paying Tk.200 to a space-preserver.

Abul Kalam Azad, assistant general manager Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation Barisal station said, 'it proved insufficient to tackle rush of Eid-passengers'. Barisal Port Officer said that the authority tried to tackle Eid rush by managing three Dhaka-bound triple deck water transports from other ports to touch Barishal port and introducing day-services.

But on Saturday load on those vessels and rush at Barishal port became so heavy that some of those were not permitted to anchor and load passengers from Barishal port.'The rush of passengers increased as a large number of garment workers and the group of  lower income passengers fill comfort to return their working place on the starting of weekly working day by the cheapest fare of water transport', he added.

---Masuk Kamal, Barishal