The hawkers who ply their trade on the Daulatdia-Paturia ferry route are newly worried about running out of business at Daulatdia ferry ghat now that the Padma Bridge opened for traffic on June 25.
The government had provided a clarification prior to the opening that ferry services, at least in terms of availability and legal permits or schedules, could continue as before. But the challenge was always going to be competing with the $3.6 billion bridge as a preferred mode to cross the river.
When it comes to public demand, they simply cannot compete with the bridge in the long run. And it now looks like their demise may come even sooner than expected. Alongside them, hundreds of hawkers who used to depend on the heavy footfall of launch passengers are faced with the same fate.
During a recent visit to the Daulatdia Ghat, UNB’s Rajbari correspondent learned that the shops situated along both sides of the ferry ghat were already closing. Some hawkers had covered their stalls in polythene.
The lack of ferry/launch passengers has also meant the usual bustle of the ghat is gone, and launch staff are no longer engaged in aggressive tactics to pull customers away from competitors.
Besides, passengers have to pay Tk 5 as entry fee to enter the launch ghat. A few passengers were seen waiting at the launch ghat after purchasing their tickets.
Alamin Bapari, a collector of entry fees at Daulatdia ferry ghat, said they used to collect fees from 6 am to 9 pm each day and some 4000/5000 people on average would go through the ghat each day, even just prior to the inauguration of Padma Bridge.
That number has already dropped to a mere 1200-1500, which is way under even half the number of passengers they served before.
Currently, passenger buses are moving over the Padma Bridge from Faridpur and people are using the bus to cross the bridge - a long-cherished dream for many. This is the main reason behind low turnout of passengers, said Alamin.