Returnees to Dhaka face long delay at Daulatdia terminal

As the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday ended, residents of the southwestern districts began returning to their work stations in the capital. However, the journey takes over 12 hours for many due to the traffic jam at the Daulatdia ferry terminal.

Shariful Islam, a shopkeeper from Barisal lying on the bonnet of a bus bound for Dhaka on Sunday morning, said he left around 7 p.m. Saturday from his home and boarded the bus around 9 p.m.

His bus was stationary 3 km from the terminal as he spoke to the UNB reporter.

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 6 km and kept getting longer by the hour.

To lessen the pressure on the terminal, police started stopping vehicles 13 km from the terminal near Ahladipur area at Rajbari sadar upazila. Hundreds of private vehicles reached the terminal crossing an additional 8 km path from Padmar Mor and the Jamidar Bridge area through 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 from Barguna, said he started around 8 p.m. with 22 tonnes of watermelon 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 Daulatdia office of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), 11,593 vehicles crossed the Padma River in the past 24 hours till 6am Sunday by ferry from Daulatdia terminal.

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

“On Saturday midday, two of the 21 ferries operating on the Daulatdia-Paturia route became out of service but both resumed operations in the evening. Currently all ferries operate from five terminals, but due to worn roads and the increased pressure from all the vehicles on the Shimulia-Banglabazar road, 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 p.m. Saturday launch trips were reduced in light of the risk, as most launches were carrying almost double their passenger capacity.

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