A halt in ferry service in Kalurghat due to repair work of the century-old Kalurghat Bridge has triggered acute sufferings for the people of South Chattogram.
People continue to suffer from the first day of the ferry- service disruption.
Sources said though there are two ferries scheduled to operate as an alternative to the bridge during the repair work, one ferry has been used since Wednesday.
Moreover, the approach road that was built by the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) for ferry service went under water due to high tide during rainfall, halting movement of vehicles.
Several hundreds of vehicles are now waiting in long lines to cross the Karnaphuli River by ferries in Kalurghat.
On the other hand, the ministry has fixed tolls for the ferry service in Kalurghat.
The tolls include Tk50 for a car or jeep, Tk90 for a microbus or a pick-up, Tk115 for a 30-seat capacity bus, Tk205 for a big 32 to 40-seat capacity bus, Tk 225 for a truck (four tonne capacity), Tk 450 for a 5 to 8-tonne capacity truck, Tk565 for a trailer or covered van, Tk 10 for a motorcycle and Tk 5 for a rickshaw.
The newly-fixed tolls are for one way journey only.
But drivers and vehicle owners complained of charging them additional money as toll by the RHD staff and officials.
Abdul Hakim, a CNG-run three-wheeler driver, said RHD staff asked him to pay extra as toll.
“Moreover, we cannot use ferry as the approach road has gone under water due to high tide,” he said.
Joynal Abedin, a casual employee of RHD, said, “There are long lines of vehicles waiting to cross the Karnaphuli River at Kalurghat by ferries due to tidal waves and rain. During ebb, the approach road will be cleared again.”
The ferry service was stopped for several hours on Wednesday and Thursday due to tidal surge and rain, he added.
Naimuddin Mustafa, a resident of Boalkhali, said motorcycles and CNG-run autorickshaws are crossing the Karnaphuli River by boat as the charge of crossing by boat is lower than ferry.
Tapon Chakraborty, a truck driver, said, “There is no official schedule for ferries to cross the Karnaphuli. So, we are waiting in the line to go to the other side of the river.”
Monjur Morshed, a local of Kalurghat area, said, “Traffic congestion and long lines of vehicles have made our lives miserable. People can’t cross the river by ferry as the approach road has been submerged by tidal water.”
Executive Engineer of RHD Pintu Chakma said, “Movement of ferries is being disrupted due to tidal waves and rain. I hope the situation will come to normal soon.”
Bangladesh Railway (BR) started repair work of the old Kalurghat Bridge on August 1 last.
Consequently, movement of vehicles on the bridge will have to be kept suspended for the next three months. The vehicles will cross the river by ferries during this time.
Md Jahangir Hossain, general manager (GM) of BR Eastern Zone, said, “It’s necessary to repair the bridge to facilitate train movement on the Cox’s Bazar route. BR will increase the load capacity of the old bridge first.”
Sources said after repair of the Kalurghat Bridge train may run to Cox’s Bazar either from Chattogram or Dhaka. Without the repair work, movement of train over the existing railway bridge at Kalurghat for the newly-constructed rail line to Cox’s Bazar is now risky.
The 239-metre-long Kalurghat dual-purpose bridge that was built in 1930 over Karnaphuli River has now become unfit for both train and road traffic.