Sadarghat Port | Dhaka
The minute we arrived at Sadarghat Port, we were surrounded by ferrymen who were all eager to row us up and down the river in one of the the many Sampan ferries – the small wooden boats, powered and steered by one person. They wait in a cue to pick up passengers. Watching & documenting the daily life at this very busy port has already fascinated us during our visit in 2012 and we were eager to experience it all over again.
Once we settled the price (roughly 150 Taka per hour – excluding tips), the journey took its course. Rush hour in the Dhaka mean that thousands of people have to cross the busy waters of the Buriganga river. It’s said that this is one of the most dangerous waterways on Earth … and most dangerous for the ferrymen.
These men are really talented and fast with their boats; they navigate them like the cycle Rickshaw drivers maneuver their through the chaotic traffic in the city. It’s hard physical work too with temperatures of up to 40° Celsius (and very often the ferrymen are over 70 years old). Very impressive! It’s not a comfortable ride tough, because you have to sit cross-legged on the wooden boat deck, so cramps are a certain factor if you’re not used to sit in such a position (and of course this was the case for us).
Traffic along the Buriganga river is most common and happening at almost any given hour of the day: big boats and small boats filled with all sorts of different goods make their way up or down the river stream, launches (this is what ferries are called in Bangladesh) come and go, cargo-ships that need a repair job are parked along the waterway…all is normal here at Sadarghat port. As you can imagine with all these boats, several movements of these ferrymen are clearly not for the faint-hearted, but somehow it works out most of the times. Still, every day one or two boats capsize. And sometimes people die.
Sadarghat port is an experience itself and a must for every Bangladesh visitor – the daily chaos with all these boats on the river will stay with you for a long time.