In an effort to bring some relief to commuters amid nagging traffic congestions in the port city, the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) is going to introduce a water bus service on the Karnaphuli River.
Initially, the service will be launched for smooth communications of air passengers to and from Shah Amanat International Airport in Patenga, and it will later be available for all, said the authorities concerned.
Water buses will run from Sadarghat in the port city to Patenga Ghat-15 to carry passengers on the 15-km route. The service is expected to open in June next.
CPA sources said air passengers will ride the water buses from Sadarghat along with their luggage. There will be a pontoon at Patenga near the airport where their check-in will be completed. Work on the pontoon is underway.
From the pontoon, the air passengers will be taken to the airport by minibuses while their luggage will be transported by vans of respective air companies.
The CPA has taken the initiative to introduce the water bus service as an alternative route for the convenience of the commuters who suffer in tailbacks at different points on the road from the city to the airport.
Work has started to launch the service initially with four buses, each with 30-seat capacity, on the route.
The CPA has assigned Chittagong Dry Dock Ltd to procure the water buses while the latter has signed a deal with ship-building company Western Marine Shipyard Ltd to build the water buses.
Marine Engineer Shakhawat Hossain, managing director of Western Marine Shipyard Ltd, said the water buses will be made ready for launching for the first time in the port city in June.
Now, it takes about an hour to reach the airport from Sadarghat by a ship. “However, the distance can be covered by only 20 minutes by a water bus. We’re making four high-speed water buses, each having a capacity of 30 passengers.”
CPA Secretary Omar Faruque told UNB that the introduction of the water bus service has already been finalised. “Work is now underway to construct a terminal on the east part of Sea Resource Limited Company in Sadarghat. Chittagong Dry Dock Ltd has been given the task to procure the water buses. The air passengers will be able to get its benefit soon.”
He said commuters have to suffer in unending tailbacks at Dewanhat, Agrabad, Nimtala and EPZ on the highway leading to the airport.
Faruque said it is not possible to ease the traffic congestion on the highway right now. “It’s not possible to ban the plying of trucks, covered vans and lorries through the city until the bay terminal is constructed. So, the government has taken the initiative to introduce the water bus service for the convenience of the air passengers.”
Wing Commander Sarwar-e-Azam, manager of Shah Amanat International Airport, said the air passengers need to start their journey from the city taking three hours in their hands before the flight due to vexing traffic congestion in Dewanhat, EPZ, Patenga and Bandar thana areas.
In order to mitigate their sufferings, the government has taken the special initiative of introducing the water bus service from Sadarghat to Ghat-15 (airport), he said.
Meanwhile, Vice-president of the Forum for Planned Chittagong Subhash Barua expressed doubt about the benefit of the water bus service. “It’s alright that one can travel from Sadarghat without any hassle. But how will one go to upto Sadarghat? The benefit of the water bus service will remain elusive unless the road management is disciplined,” he said.unb