Ferries on Shimulia-Banglabazar route are going to stay for now even after the opening of the Padma Bridge next week, according to relevant officials.

The widely used ferry terminal named Mawa ghat (Shimulia-Banglabazar route) is likely to remain operational even after the country's longest ever (6.15 km) bridge opens to vehicular traffic on June 26, a day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to declare it open at a grand ceremony on June 25.

At present, four ferries (Kunjalata, Kadam, Begum Rokeya, Begum Sufia Kamal) transport a total of 62,500 people and 2,900 vehicles per day through the Shimulia-Banglabazar route, while 21 ferries transport around 10,000 vehicles per day via Paturia-Daulatdia route.

Currently, only light passenger vehicles are transported via the Shimulia-Banglabazar route while goods-laden heavy vehicles are transported via the Paturia-Daulatdia route.

State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said recently that the ferry terminal at Shimulia will remain open even after the inauguration of Padma Bridge.

At least12 more ferries will be added to the Shimulia-Banglabazar route, he said, signaling that ferries will be kept operational even after the opening of the Padma Bridge.

He also hoped that demand for ferries will increase at the Shimulia Ghat in the coming days.

As the toll rate for using the Padma Bridge is almost 50 per cent more than the ferry fares, it is likely that a lot of commuters will keep using the ferries to reduce their transport costs.

The state minister also mentioned that a tourist-centric eco zone will be set up at Shimulia to generate employment.

"No one from the areas adjacent to the Padma Bridge will remain unemployed," said Khalid.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) informed UNB that they have a big plan centering the Shimulia ghat and its adjacent areas. One of them is to keep ferries operational.

BIWTC's public relation office said it has already taken some initiatives to redesign the area to make it tourist-friendly.

The authority also took a massive initiative to build a walkway for the tourists as the appeal of the area did not fade. Ferry services will accelerate the activities.

BIWTC Chairman Ahmed Shamim Al Razi said the ferries which are in operation in the Shimulia Ghat will not be stopped instantly as BIWTC needs to observe the demand of ferries.

He said that the authority will take decision to decrease the number if it finds the demand for the ferries to be low.

"We have planned to establish a river side park in the area including a museum to attract the tourists. A cruise ship will also be launched to preserve the lively mood of the area alongside the ferry operations," he said.

The authorities have planned to operate heavy-duty ferries with powerful engines between Shimulia Ghat of Munshiganj and Banglabazar Ghat of Madaripur to avoid any future accident at the Padma Bridge site.

The move came after a ferry struck pillar No 17 of the Padma Bridge near Louhajang on July 23, 2021.

The authorities informed that they were collecting ferries with powerful engines from some other routes for the Shimulia-Banglabazar route because of the strong tide during monsoon as it is hard to operate ferries at this time of the year.

The Shimulia ferry ghat is located at Sreenagar upazila of Munshiganj district on the northern bank of Padma River, a few kilometres from the iconic bridge.

The biggest and busiest terminal is situated just 50km away from the capital Dhaka.

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