The water level in the Padma river has declined drastically causing severe navigability problem on the Shimulia-Kawrakandi route which connects 21 northern districts of the country.
It is feared that if the dry season continues and no dredging is done, playing of vessels would be stopped in the route.
Sources at Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) at Mawa said the water level in river is decreasing by some 3cm to 4cm everyday. The depth of water was only six feet in the Baglabazaar point on Tuesday.
The navigability at Loujang Turning Point, middle char area of Shimulia Ghat, Kathalbari, Banglabazaar, Chairmanbari area and Charjanajat has dramatically been reduced drastically by the change in water flow, they said.
The propellers of Ro-Ro ferries are getting damaged while plying very close to sandy river bed. The ferries are plying at a speed of around 3.5 nautical miles per hour, instead of their usual speed at around six nautical miles.
On Thursday, a Kawrakandi bound Ro-Ro ferry Keramat Ali carrying 13 trucks and nine small vehicles got stuck for about an hour in the main channel of Banglabazaar due to low navigation.
Another Ro-Ro ferry Birsheshtra Ruhul Amin could not leave the Kawrakandi Ferry Ghat No-3 due to the same reason. Later, it had to reduce some weight by not carrying few trucks and then left the ghat for Shimulia Ghat.
The BIWTA in August last year dredged the channel by using their four dredgers including dredger-136, 139, 2014-02 and Delta-02. Three private dredgers, including Madhumati, Padma and Icelander, were also used to increase the navigation.
In August last year, the depth of water was 18 feet in the Mawa point. The level of water has fallen to 4.5, which is a decline of around 13.5 feet in the last seven moth, said officials at the BIWTA.
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, drivers of several ferries said they need to become more cautious while the plying their vessels in the Loujang point, Banglabazaar point, middle char area, Charjanajat, Kathalbari and Charmanbari due poor navigability during the dry season.
BIWTC Marine Officer Md Shajahan said the plying of ferries are being hampered at the ghat and several points of the channel now.
He, however, said the department concerned have been asked for dredging in the areas of the river.
BIWTA Deputy Assistant Engineer (dredging) Ikbal Hossen said they have begun dredging in some areas of the river.
“The dredger Delta-1 is in operation for dredging in the Kathalbari area,” he said.
“The removal of silt from the route is almost done. But, it is matter of fact that level of water in the Padma is much low now,” he added.