Liton Pathan, Sylhet Bureau Chief:
The craftsmen are busy making seasonal boats in different areas of Madhabpur in Habiganj. With the onset of monsoon, the value of kosha and dinghy boats for household chores and ferry crossings and cattle feed increased several times in the surrounding unions, including the surrounding villages.
There is a lot of rain around the village, the only hope is to go somewhere by boat. Boats are valued every monsoon for agricultural work, fisheries projects and fish feeding in ponds, fish transportation, hat-bazaars, cattle feed collection, fishing, chara law and people traveling in the beel area.
At one time the absence of wooden boats as a river vehicle could not be imagined. At that time wooden oars and bamboo logs were used to drive the vehicle. As a result of the change of time and the advancement of technology, various changes have taken place in this waterway. At present the use of engine in boats is gone.
Although the communication system of the village has been improved, now there are many villages where the boat is the only means of communication.
According to the locals, these hats are located on the banks of Khasti river in Madhabpur upazila, in front of Katiyar bridge. According to the boat traders, the ponds, canals and rivers are full of water during the five months of Ashwin from Jaish of the Bengali year, during which time buyers flock to the boat market to buy the boat of their choice.
It can be seen in this market, the artisans are sitting with hundreds of kosha, pansi, dinghy boats. Boats worth lakhs of rupees are being sold at every market here.
Traders are charging buyers between Rs 2,500 and Rs 6,000 depending on the size of the boat and the use of wood. Buyers are likely to call everyone who looks appropriate, if there are only a few. Buyers are also making sure that boats made of Jarul, Gowara, Pooya, Oriya, Rentry, Mango, Kadam, Domra, Bainya, Chambal, Kadai, Tula, Krishnachura or iron wood are also available.
Subhash Sutradhar, a boat builder from Goalnagar village, said, “We get a profit of Tk 800 to Tk 1,000 after paying for wood and labor for a boat.” And it takes 3 mechanics to make 2 boats from 1 day. Wholesalers come to us from different areas of the upazila. Besides, I also sell in other markets of the upazila.
Mann Mia of Madhabpur Upazila said, I build houses. I make boats in the rainy season. I have been working on the boat since independence. At present the cost of making boats has gone up as the prices of iron and wood have gone up. This year, a 10-arm-long and two-arm-wide boat is being sold for between Rs 3,200 and Rs 3,500. But last year it was sold for between two and two and a half thousand. However, the share of profits has decreased from before.
Moreover, Surendra Sarkar of Durgapur village said that more than 200 boats are sold every year in this season. Many people’s lives and livelihoods are involved in boat building and buying and selling activities in this season. Subhash Mandal and Ratan of Durgapur village are making boats and dreaming of being self-sufficient as well as others.