Ashish Kumar Sarkar, deputy commissioner of Chittagong Taxes Zone-4, now takes his office boat to work. Every day he meets a security guard who moonlights as a boatman.
And this is a necessity, not eccentricity.
Every day the area in Chittagong Agrabad CDA, where his office is located, goes under knee-to-waist-deep water when the tide is high and the recent downpours only made things worse.
This forced the office to buy a boat so that its employees could get into and out of the office.
Ashish said the boat was bought from a shop just over two weeks ago for Tk 26,000. The shop got it from a ship-breaking yard.
He said not only office staffers, important taxpayers use the boat to get to the office as well.
“The problem became unbearable when rainwater inundated the area for three consecutive days last month,” said Abdul Aziz, an assistant to the commissioner of Chittagong Taxes Zone-4.
“We could not go out for emergencies even as vehicles could not get through.”
Despite having a serviceable staff bus, they cannot use it from their office during high tide or heavy rains. They now use the boat to get to higher ground and then use the bus, Aziz said.
“We could not even get a rickshaw to move from one office to another. So our honourable commissioner decided to buy the boat,” he said.
Saiful Islam, a senior assistant of the office on Road-1 of Agrabad CDA, said the streets in and around the office go under water every day. “It’s difficult to go out for emergency work during that time but now we can use the boat.”
An official preferring anonymity said, “Some streets go under knee-deep water and some under waist-deep water. You would not see any dry road here during high tide.
“Sometimes officials use the boat to get to Jamburi Field from where they could get a rickshaw.”
About the tax office buying the boat, Sudip Basak, an assistant engineer of Chittagong City Corporation, said, “They did it for temporary emergency use.
“The nature of Agrabad area is a bit different from other parts of the city … the area used to be inundated during high tides and to address the problem an embankment was built on Mahesh Khal.
“People in the area were getting its benefit. Since rainwater could not be drained quickly because of the embankment, we had to get rid of it and it brought back the old problem,” he said.
“Initiatives have been taken to address the waterlogging problem of Agrabad as well as other parts of the city, but it will take time to implement those,” Sudip said.
Despite repeated attempts, Managing Director AKM Fazlullah of Chittagong Water Supply and Sewerage Authority could not be reached for comments yesterday.