More than 300 Sampan boatmen from eight organisations staged a day-long hunger strike at Sadarghat along the Karnaphuli River demanding the return of the ghat's (pier) lease to their association.
They protested the Chattogram City Corporation's (CCC) decision to lease the ghat (pier) to different organisations instead of to Sampan Majhi, the association of professional boatmen.
They continued the strike till 6pm Tuesday by suspending services and by mooring their Sampans ─ long sea boats with a triangular mast ─ at the ghat.
SM Peyar Ali, president of the Karnaphuli River Sampan Majhi Welfare Association, said that the city corporation ousted the traditional boatmen from the ghat breaching the policy of 2003.
The boatmen who were on strike said Chattogram City Corporation's Chief Revenue Officer Mafidul Alam leased the ghat to various businessmen during the last Pahela Baishakh (Bangla New Year).
The affected boatmen submitted a written statement to the Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives Ministry.
On April 29, deputy secretary of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives, Mohammad Fazle Azim gave a directive to return the lease to the boatmen. But the CCC chief revenue officer forwarded the directive to the CCC law official seeking an opinion.
Since then, no initiative has been taken regarding the directive, causing immense suffering to the boatmen.