The Padma Bridge has reduced the distance between Dhaka and Bhomra Land Port by around 70km, but goods carrying costs for traders have gone up as they are now having to pay more in tolls and extortions at different points along the route.
A goods-laden truck plying the new route costs at least Tk420 more than what it cost on the ferry route, drivers claimed.
Abul Basar, a truck driver who transports goods from Bhomra port to Dhaka, told The Business Standard that given Tk80 in fuel cost per litre, using the bridge to go to Dhaka is supposed to save a truck Tk1,360 compared to the ferry route.
Using the ferry route to Dhaka earlier, he had to pay Tk1,800 in bridge tolls, ferry fees, and bribes.
But he had to pay a whopping Tk3,570 on Sunday, he claimed.
On his way to Dhaka, he was forced to pay Tk550 in "tolls" taken in the name of Dhaka South City Corporation, Naraynganj municipality, Bhanga highway police, Postogola Workers union, and Fakirhat Police (Tk100).
As legal bridge tolls, he paid Tk2,840 at Postogola Bridge, Arial Kha Bridge, Dhaleshwar Bridge, Mollarhat Bridge, Rupsa Bridge and at the Mawa point of the Padma Bridge.
No complaints from traders
However, traders and truck drivers do not mind the extra costs as it makes up for a smooth and fast trip.
Basar said "It takes less time and the road is better. Being able to travel fast is a blessing."
He said, "Earlier, there was no fixed time for ferry crossings and we did not know when we would be able to cross the river. There were days when it would take us two days. Even though the cost is higher now, that uncertainty has vanished."
Maksud Alam Khan, general secretary of Bhomra C&F Agents Association, said, "Transporting goods using the Padma Bridge costs more but we have no problem with that as it saves time."
"Earlier, businessmen had to worry about when the truck would reach Dhaka and perishable fruit could easily rot. Now traders don't mind even if the cost is a little higher."