Keraniganj, May 31 (UNB) – Workers of some 30 dockyards in and around Keraniganj are passing a busy period in their respective dockyards in refurbishing the old and unfit launches to earn extra money ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr.
One of the most abiding features of the Eid-ul-Fitr festival among Bangladeshis is the almost ritual practice of going home for the holidays, as millions clear out of the main urban centres they have migrated to over the years in favour of a return to roots, often to their ancestral villages where families still maintain a presence to celebrate Eid with their dear and near ones.
Visiting different dockyards including Rahman Dockyard, Baby Shaheb Dockyard in Keraniganj, on the outskirts of the capital, the UNB correspondent found that a number of launches are being given facelifts.
The workers are busy in repairing and refurbishing launches and adding new cabins to the launch to deal the excessive pressure of passengers ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Official sources said launch is the lone mode of vehicle for some 5-7 million people (50-70 lakh people) on 37 river routes during Eid.
A total of 80-90 luxurious launches which ply Dhaka-Chandpur and Dhaka-Barishal routes have fitness but 70 unfit launches ply the 27 river routes including Matlab, Bhedorganj, Damudya, Muladi, Gouranadi, Patarhat, Rangabali, Gosairhat, Kalaiya, Patuakhali and Morelganj.
The passengers travel by the unfit launches during the mad rush of Eid putting their lives at risk.
However, the launch owners claimed that the papers and documents of the launches are valid and that they are fit for carrying passengers to tackle the huge pressure of passengers during Eid.
In reality though, they have only undergone some cosmetic changes like a new paint job, as part of a facelift to attract passengers.
Contacted, AKM Arif Uddin, joint secretary of Dhaka River Port of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), said, “A special team of BIWTA and river police will strongly monitor and conduct drive at different launch terminals including Sadarghat, Chandpur and Barishal from June 2 to 12 to check overloading and charging extra fares for ensuring smooth journey of the passengers.”