Fish, fruit and vegetable traders in the south are all smiles after the inauguration of Padma Bridge on Saturday.
Reduced travel times have also meant reduced costs, which in turn can result in higher prices than before.
Hitler Goldar, leader of the local fishermen's traders and warehousing association in Bagerhat's Faltita Bazar, said on the first day that the bridge was opened for public use, four trucks carrying shrimps and fish worth Tk60 lakh left Faltita Bazar for Karwan Bazar in Dhaka.
"We were able to capture a part of the early fish market in Dhaka. We had never been able to do that before as we had to wait 4-5 hours at the ferry terminal. Because we reached Dhaka fast, we managed to sell per kilogram of fish at Tk40-50 more," he said.
Faltita Bazar of Fakirhat upazila is the largest shrimp and white fish market in the district. Every day fish worth around Tk1.5 crore is bought and sold in this market.
Asit Saha, a storekeeper there, said the Padma Bridge had come as a blessing. "Earlier, because of the syndicate we had been forced to sell at lower prices. Now, the bridge will make reaching our customers directly easier and our profits will increase," he said.
According to the Fisheries Department, there are 6,065 tonnes of Bagda shrimp and Golda shrimp being cultivated on 6,613 hectares of land in the district. Some 56,000 farmers are engaged in the activity.
In the fiscal 2021-22, the region sold Tk20,000 crore worth of shrimp and Tk14,000 crore worth of shada maach.
Monirul Islam, the lessee of Bagerhat C&B Bazar, a vegetable wholesale haat, said this time there are no fears of vegetables being spoiled while waiting for the ferries.
This will benefit the farmers, who can sell more stock and even fetch higher prices.
Bagerhat Deputy Director of the Department of Agricultural Extension Azizur Rahman said the Padma Bridge will benefit farmers the most as almost 60,000 tonnes of vegetables are sent from Bagerhat to different areas, including Dhaka.
"As a result of the bridge, these agricultural products are reaching everywhere at low cost and in a short time," he said.
The situation is similar in Khulna.
Liaquat Mollah, a wholesale trader, said, "Earlier, we would send goods to Dhaka by truck at 8am. It would reach by 7-10pm. Three to five hours were wasted at the ferry crossing. But this morning I sent jackfruits, water spinach and a few other goods at 9am in the morning and it reached Dhaka in five and a half hours only.
"I had to pay trucks from Khulna to Karwan Bazar in Dhaka around Tk15,000. Now, I only have to pay Tk11,000."
Liaquat expects truck fares to fall further.
Rahmat Ali, proprietor of Kadamtala Fruit Warehouse, said, "We had to pay Tk20,000 to bring a truck of fruits from Dhaka before we had the Padma Bridge. But last night, I hired a truck for only Tk18,500."
Driver Sardar Hossain had brought a truck full of pineapples from Kawran Bazar in Dhaka.
"Last night I came to Khulna from Dhaka through the Padma Bridge. It took less time than before so I can afford to charge less," he said.
He also said the wider, new roads allowed trucks to travel at 60-70 km/h.
Many truck owners are mulling reducing their fares even further.
Meanwhile, food items-laden trucks from Meherpur reached Dhaka's Kawran Bazar in only five hours on Monday, said traders.
Previously the same journey would take 8-10 hours, said truck driver Lokman Hossain, who transported green chilli and vegetables yesterday.
Vegetable farmers of Meherpur said that due to longer travel time, vegetables used to often rot before reaching Dhaka.
"Earlier we had to wait for hours for our turn to cross the ferry. Today we found empty ferries waiting for vehicles," said Lokman.
"The scene on the road from Manikganj to Amin Bazar was also different. Thanks to very light traffic, we reached Karwan Bazar from Meherpur in just 5 hours," he added.
Elsewhere, just two days after the dream project was inaugurated, owners and workers of riverine transports like launches and speedboats that ply on the Shimulia-Banglabazar and Shimulia-Majirkandi routes expressed their frustration over the imminent future of the business.
Speedboat owner Topu Ahmed said, "Speedboat drivers and owners get to earn when the boats run. Yesterday, my boat made a single trip while today it couldn't make even one as of now. I will end up selling the boat if this continues."
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday celebrated the opening of the country's longest bridge.
The 6.51-kilometre bridge spanning the Padma River cost an estimated $3.6 billion and was paid for from domestic funds.
The bridge, which was opened to the public on Sunday, will slash the distance between the capital and Bangladesh's second largest seaport, Mongla, by 100 kilometres, while at the same time connect 21 southern districts directly with Dhaka.