Launch service on the Chattogram-Barishal route resumed on a trial basis on Thursday after more than 10 years, bringing delight to the passengers and traders of the route.
The coastal passenger vessel MV Tajuddin left Sadarghat Waterbus Terminal in Chattogram with 401 passengers on Thursday morning. Another vessel MV Baro Awlia will join MV Tajuddin in passenger transport once the naval route is officially launched.
The last BIWTC ship left Sadarghat in Chattogram for Barishal on 23 June, 2011. Launch service on this route was suspended due to the crisis of launches. As a result, the people of Barishal living in Chattogram had been suffering for a long time.
Abu Taher, inland master officer of MV Tajuddin, told The Business Standard, "Launch service on this route was shut down 10 years ago due to navigability crisis, shoals and passenger crisis. Now, the government has decided to operate launches again, adding modern equipment to operate the launches."
"Once, it took 21 hours to travel from Chattogram to Barishal. Modern technology launches MV Tajuddin and MV Baro Awlia will take only 12 hours to cross the same route. This will also develop tourism on this route," he added.
According to BIWTC, the two passenger vessels –MV Tajuddin and MV Baro Awlia – will alternately carry passengers on the route once a week. Both vessels have 750 seats and 25 cabins.
Government employee Manoj Kumar Dey who lives in Chattogram was born in Barisal. He told TBS, "It costs a lot of money and time to go to Barishal via Chandpur, Lakshmipur and Bhola. So, for a long time, the people of greater Barisal who are living in Chattogram have been demanding launches on this route. Today is the day to fulfil our dream, we want this initiative to continue."
Faisal Alam Chowdhury, assistant general manager of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC), Chattogram, said, "We plan to resume regular launch service from 9 December if the trial run is successful. Due to high demand from passengers, the authorities concerned are going to resume the service with new vessels at the previous ticket price of Tk450."
"One week MV Tajuddin and next week MV Baro Awlia will go from Chattogram to Barishal, leaving the port city every Thursday morning and returning from Barishal on Friday night," he added.
Tourism expected to develop
Traders and tourism professionals in Chattogram and Barishal say that the country's tourism sector will develop if ships continue to ply on this route maintaining quality passenger service. There is also the opportunity to travel with family also.
Biswajit Ghosh, deputy general manager of Foy's Lake Concord Amusement Park, told TBS: "The most popular route in tourism is through the sea. The resumption of launch service on this route will develop tourism. The people of Barishal will be able to visit the tourist spots of Chattogram if they want."
"However, since the journey is about 12 hours, to attract the tourists to this route, the launches have to offer food and toilet facilities for the passengers. In addition, there should be a breastfeeding corner for mothers and proper security for women," he added.