Authorities experimentally operated a ferry through an alternative channel on Shimulia-Kathalbari route yesterday, a day after the service was suspended for an indefinite period due to navigability crisis.
But the ferry took around seven hours to cross the Padma as opposed to one hour and 10 minutes through the regular channel.
The ferry carrying 14 goods-laden trucks started from Shimulia Ghat at 12:30pm and reached Kathalbari terminal through the alternative channel via Khejurbari-Naria-Palar Char around 7:30pm, said BIWTC officials.
Shimulia point is located in Munshiganj while Kathalbari point is in Madaripur.
The authorities could not decide until yesterday whether they would resume the ferry service through the alternative channel as it takes a lot of time, said Mohammad Ali, manager (marine) of BIWTC at Shimulia Ghat.
Meanwhile, Shipping Ministry Secretary Mohammad Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury visited the area yesterday and told journalists they have taken necessary measures to restore navigability of the recently shut Lauhajang channel.
"We hope ferry services will be resumed on this channel within next couple of days," he said.
Authorities concerned have already taken measures to restore navigability of another channel through Hazra-Kabutarkhola route, the secretary said, adding that they are hoping to start ferry operation on this channel within the next month.
Earlier on Sunday evening, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) decided to suspend ferry service on this route sine die due to poor navigability, causing immense suffering to passengers.
Both BIWTC and BIWTA are government bodies under the shipping ministry. BIWTC is responsible for operating ferry services while BIWTA is responsible for maintenance of ferry terminals and routes.
Navigability problem has been intensifying over time thanks to continuous sedimentation, said BIWTA officials.
Normally, 15 ferries run on Shimulia-Kathalbari route -- one of the major gateway to the southern districts. But the services were facing disruption over the last couple of months due to strong currents and navigability crisis.
Amid such a situation, authorities concerned were forced to shut down the services on September 3 for the same reason.
The service resumed on September 11, but ferries were facing difficulties while plying.
Meanwhile, the flow of vehicles was increasing on another major route -- Paturai-Dauladia.
Patuaria point is located in Manikganj district, while Dauladia is located in Rajbari.
Several hundred goods-laden trucks were stranded at Paturia ferry ghat yesterday as the pressure of vehicles increased.
"We are operating 18 out of 19 ferries round the clock. But many vehicles are in the queue," said Zillur Rahman, Deputy General Manager (commerce) of BIWTC.
"We are prioritising passenger vehicles and perishable goods-laden trucks to board the ferries," he told The Daily Star.