People using the Bhola-Lakshmipur (Moju Chowdhury Hat) route have long been demanding a ferry terminal at Motirhat in Lakshmipur's Kamalnagar, which they say will cut their journey by several hours and lessen their sufferings.
People of 21 districts – 12 under Khulna and Barishal divisions and nine under Chattogram division – use this route, which facilitates direct communication with the Mongla and the Chattogram ports.
They say the journey from Bhola Ilisha Ghat to Moju Chowdhury Hat in Lakshmipur Sadar is a troublesome experience for the passengers as ferries and launches remain stuck in the river for several hours every day due to acute navigability crisis in the last 10 kilometres of the route from Motirhat.
However, the sufferings could be resolved if there were a ferry terminal at Motirhat in Lakshmipur's Kamalnagar, from where it is easier to reach Lakshmipur town.
Motirhat comes first in the journey from Bhola Ilisha Ghat to Moju Chowdhury Hat.
This 10-kilometre stretch has acute navigability crisis all through the year, except the rainy season, according to the Bhola office of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA).
Md Saleh Uddin, a government official who travels from Lakshmipur to Patuakhali on a regular basis, said, "All the ferries and launches of Bhola-Lakshmipur route now have to travel 10 kilometres extra to reach Moju Chowdhury Hat terminal as there is no terminal at Motirhat. Even when the water flow of the River Meghna is normal, it takes around one and a half hours to cross the narrow 10 kilometres route from Motirhat."
Ripon Haolader, master of MV Upobon launch, said the 10-kilometre route of the Meghna's Rahamatkhali channel was very scary for both drivers and passengers. From October to April, the route suffers from acute navigability problems, and there are so many hidden shoals there. During low tide, ferries and launches get stuck in the shoals. Sometimes, a vessel has to remain stuck for five to seven days.
Piyar Ahmed Farazi, inspector of BIWTC at Moju Chowdhury Hat ferry ghat, said, "The navigability problem persists despite dredging operations all the year round."
Md Jahirul Alam, international coordinator of Bhola Development Foundation International, said Mohammad Masud Alam Siddique, deputy commissioner of Bhola, on behalf of local people applied to the shipping ministry on 10 July, 2019, to take steps for setting up a terminal at Motirhat.