The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) has announced the suspension of daytime ferry service on Paturia-Daulatdia and Shimulia-Banglabazar routes from Saturday morning as per government instructions to curb the spread of coronavirus infection ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
However, ferries will only operate at night for freight traffic.
Following the late-night announcement, flocks of passengers were seen being forced to return from the entrance of Shimulia Ghat.
According to some passengers they were unaware of the midnight announcement. They came to the wharf and saw that the ferry was closed, while the police have been working to remove them from the wharf area.
Meanwhile, police patrols were seen at the entrances of Dhaka-Mawa Expressway, Mawa Crossroads, and Shimulia Ghat. South Bengal-bound passengers are being turned away from these patrol posts.
Hilal Uddin, traffic police inspector (TI) at Shimulia Ferry Ghat, said, "Passengers are being turned away from one kilometre away from the Shimulia Ghat. No passengers are allowed to enter the Shimulia Ghat area. Launches and speedboats were closed until further notice and ferries are closed during the day from today so no one will be able to cross the river."
He urged the passengers not to crowd in the ghat area.
BIWTC's Shimulia Ghat Manager (Commerce) Shafayat Ahmed said that they had stopped the ferry service since last night. However, he was unaware of the number of ferries that would operate at nighttime.
On the other hand, people have thronged the Paturia-Daulatdia ferry ghat area, which is one of the main routes connecting 21 south-western districts of the country with the capital.
Passenger Afsana Afroze came to know about the closure of the ferry service after reaching Paturia ghat in a private car this morning.
Another passenger Nazmul Ahsan complained that a ferry left Daulatdia ghat in the morning, but soon after it was reported on media the wharf authority suspended the service.
"Some passengers boarded the ferry while transporting an ambulance this morning," Zillur Rahman, deputy general manager (DGM) of BIWTC Aricha office said, adding, "Even though the ferry service was stopped, two or three ferries are being operated for the emergency crossing of some vehicles."