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DHAKA: Many Dhaka residents have never heard of the city’s hotel boats, but for traders and visitors from other districts of the Bangladeshi capital, the floating accommodations have offered a good accommodation option for decades Marlet.
Hotel boats on the banks of the Buriganga River began to emerge in the first half of the 20th century under British colonial rule, providing accommodation to poor traders from deprived rural areas arriving in Dhaka in search of work.
Double-decker ships moored along the banks on the southwestern outskirts of town are the most cost-effective option for visitors, with prices as low as 50 US cents per night.
Mohammed Mostofa Mia, owner of Faridpur Hotel, one of the four remaining floating establishments, told Arab News that the business emerged when road communications in the country were limited and the river was the main route to Dhaka. .
“These floating hotels started providing services to traders who traveled to Dhaka from different parts of the country,” he said.
“We operate like other classic hotels. Guests must provide a copy of their national ID card upon check-in.
But other rules were different.
“Guests are required to bring their own bedding, pillows and blankets. We only provide space here,” Mia added.
Each floating hotel can accommodate around 60 people, with only two shared toilets. The cheapest option, at 50 cents, is a hostel-style room with 15 beds, while a more private room — a double-bed cabin about 40 square feet — costs nearly $2 a night.
Apart from a bed, there are no amenities and guests hang their belongings on the upper part of the walls. Ceiling fans provide some comfort in hot weather.
Mohammed Lalon, 35, who sells dates in Dhaka’s old town and its Sadarghat port terminal, checked into one of the hotel boats nearly two months ago.
“If I stay in a shared room anywhere in Dhaka, I would have to spend twice as much. So this floating hotel is a good solution for me,” he said. “I don’t need to spend money on transportation every day.”
For Abdul Hakim, 62, the River Halls have been his home for decades. The fruit vendor arrived in Dhaka around 40 years ago and has lived most of that time in a 15-bed dorm.
He is from a village in the district of Pabna, 160 kilometers from the capital, and by saving money on his accommodation, he was able to pay to send his five children to school.
“To stay one night here, I only have to pay half a dollar,” he said. “My eldest daughter graduated from college in Pabna. If I spend more on housing, I will not be able to provide money for the children’s education.