Ferrying people for 4 decades

Ferrying people for 4 decades

For the residents of Innoli Kelaginakare or Innoli Kadavu, Hasanabba, a boatman is part and parcel of their life. They have been depending on him for transportation across river Nethravathi for the last 43 years, writes Naina J A.

Hasanabba ferrying passengers across Nethravathi river in Innoli Kelaginakare.

From dawn to dusk, he waits patiently for anyone who wants to cross the river Nethravathi from Innoli Kelaginakare to reach Arkula, and get into a bus to reach Mangalore or to go home to their village.

He is the only boatman left, whose services are relied upon by the visitors or villagers at Arkula and at Innioli Kelaginakare to cross the river. He ferries the passengers in his country boat from 7 am to 8 pm.

Hasanabba popularly known as Puthu Monu is a familiar face in the village. Speaking to City Herald, he said ferrying passengers across the river in my country boat is a source of my livelihood for the last 43 years. Earlier, my brother was into this service. Now I am the only boatman here.”

He said: “I have seven children — five girls and two boys who are studying. I earn for three meals a day using this boat. Several school children, office-goers use the service of country boat in the morning to cross the river.

In the evening, the same people use the service to get back home. I charge Rs 3 for ferrying the passengers. Some school kids even pay 50 paise or pay about Rs 50 in a month. About 100 to 150 passengers are ferried across the river daily.”

If the boat is at Innoli Kelaginakare, then from the otherside of the river, people whistle to give a signal that passengers are waiting for the boat, he says. The distance from Innoli to Mangalore is 30 kms by bus. However, if one uses the boat to cross the river to reach Arkula, then the distance is only 14 km.

In fact, during summer, one can cross the river using the boat within five to ten minutes. During rainy reason, it takes time to cross the river as the water-level in the river Netravathi is more.

“Those villagers who know to row the boat, help Hasanabba as he uses a long bamboo stick (through which the boat moves faster),” said a villager. The country boat which he uses for ferrying the passengers is 25 years old.

Every year, he spends atleast 10,000 to Rs 12,000 for maintenance work.

At the same time, he also hoists sail to take advantage of a favourable wind during monsoon. When asked on any tragedy in his boat, he said that by  the grace of God, there was no tragedy till date. “I have to be extra careful while ferrying the passengers as several lives will be in my hand till we cross the river,” he says.

Recalling the major flood in the region in 1974, he said the flood had forced all the people living in houses beside the river to vacate and rush to safer place. “I have not seen any flood as powerful as that of 1974 in my life,” he said and added that services of his boat were used then to shift the residents to safer places even during that fateful night.

“In the interest of the villagers, the government should help Hasanabba to purchase a fiber boat. The government should at least help him in getting a subsidy to purchase the fiber boat,” said a resident and a frequent user of Hasanabba’s boat service.

“Life as a boatman is not easy these days. Boat is my source of livelihood. My son Samad who is handicapped also helps me in my venture,” says Hasanabba.

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