People faced immense sufferings yesterday as they had to wait at Paturia and Daulatdia ferry terminals for over 12 hours to get on ferries to cross the Padma.
This situation arose when the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation stopped plying of Ro-Ro ferries (big-sized ferries) on the Paturia-Daulatdia route apparently for security reasons.
Contacted, Ajmal Hossain, deputy general manager of BIWTC at Aricha office in Manikganj's Paturia, said they did that following police instructions.
However, Rifat Rahman Shamim, superintendent of Manikganj police, said he did not know anything about the instructions.
Thousands of passengers, including children and women, had to stay in the ghat areas as their buses were stranded there from 12:00am to 12:00 noon due to disruption in the ferry service.
On the other hand, eight small and medium-sized ferries were operated on the route. They ferried some passengers and light vehicles. The plying of big-sized ferries resumed after noon.
At noon, this correspondent found that eight out of 10 big-sized ferries were anchored at the Paturia ghat. Two other ferries were seen anchored at a floating workshop for repair.
Goods-laden trucks, covered vans and buses lined up separately on the 3km stretch of the Dhaka-Aricha highway from Arpara to the Paturia ghat.
Abid Hasan, who was going to Kushtia, said his bus reached the Paturia ghat around 12:00am, but they could not board a ferry until 12:30pm.
Sufia Akter, who was heading for Khulna in a bus, said she and her two minor children were facing serious problems as they had no food and there was a shortage of toilets.
Sonia Akter, who was travelling on a Jhenidah-bound bus, said the government should not stop ferry service in the name of maintaining law and order ahead of delivering the verdicts in the August 21 grenade attack cases.
Truck driver Ramzan Ali said he arrived at the Paturia ghat around 1:00am, but could not get on a ferry until 12:30pm, he said, adding that nobody knew why the operation of big ferries was stopped.
Shafiqul Islam, manager (commerce) of BIWTC at Daulatdia office in Rajbari, said around 250 vehicles, including 150 goods-laden trucks, had to wait at Daulatdia ghat to board ferries around 12:30pm. However, the situation became normal after evening, he said.