DHAKA: A 100-year-old boat market in Bangladesh’s Manikganj district has become the only resort for thousands of villagers looking to purchase a boat ahead of the monsoon season.
The vessels serve as the only medium of travel for more than one million residents of Manikganj and adjacent districts.
Every Wednesday, hundreds of people from Manikganj, Tangail, Sirajganj, Faridpur and Dhaka fill the market, located along the banks of the Dhaleswari river.
“The boat market remains open for five months during the monsoon season. I have been visiting this market since my early childhood with my father,” Jagadish Chandra Sarker, a 70-year-old tea vendor, told Arab News.
“On market days, the traders remain busy throughout the day,” Sarker added.
Bangladesh is surrounded by the Padma, Jamuna, Dhaleswari, Ichhamati and Kaliganga rivers, a resource which becomes problematic during the monsoon season when floodwaters inundate the low-lying villages of the country, disrupting life and communication for thousands of villagers.
Every family is compelled to purchase at least one boat.
“This boat market has earned a huge goodwill for its craftsmanship. Even traders from some adjacent districts like Tangail, Sirajganj and Saver visit regularly,” Gouranga Kumar Ghosh, the operator of the market, said.
On any given day, traders sell around 100 boats, Ghosh added.
The average length of the boats is between 15 and 20 feet, while the prices varies from $25 to $100, depending on the quality and size of the vessel.
“On average, our boats last for two seasons. But they serve more if properly coated with coal tar," Abdul Halim, a market trader, told Arab News.
Like Halim, other traders manufacture boats at stations in their homes, which they then deliver to the market through trucks, rickshaw vans or horse carts.
It takes a day for a carpenter to make a small boat, Halim said.
“With this seasonal boat trading, I earn a handsome amount during the monsoons. On an average, I earn around $200 per month from boat trading,” Halim said.
“I bought a new boat for my family for $35. It seemed that the price is little higher than the previous year,” Abdur Rahman, a 47-year-old buyer from Shibpur, Manikganj told said.
Solaiman Sheikh, 37, another buyer from the Savar district said he was happy with his latest purchase.
“I have been visiting this boat market once a year for the past nine years. Since, during monsoons, I have no other choice for commuting except by boat, I prefer a new boat every year. Safety is the first concern as my little boys also travel with me,” Sheikh said.