Toughest Place to Be

Toughest Place to Be a Ferryman

Series 3 - Episode 2 Toughest Place to Be a Ferryman



You can barely see the water of the Buriganga River in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for the hundreds of tiny wooden boats, all frantically trying not to be crushed by the massive cargo ships that plough their way up river. As transport goes, this must be the most dangerous way to get around in Dhaka, yet it doesn’t stop 25,000 people crossing the river every rush hour.

Colin Window, who works on the 1,000-ton Woolwich Ferry in London, joins sampan skipper Mr Loteef to learn how to weave his way through the teeming river traffic. “They must be a hard people to cope with this,” he says. That’s an understatement.


Colin Window, a bridge officer on east London's Woolwich ferry, travels to Bangladesh's capital Dhaka to work on the Buriganga river, one of the world's busiest waterways. Aided by 70-year-old skipper Muhammed Loteef, he attempts to take passengers across the river aboard a sampan, a wooden boat steered and powered by one oar - but with an estimated 25,000 people trying to make the same journey during the rush hour, he finds himself facing challenges quite unlike those back home. During his stay in Dhaka, Colin also lives alongside Muhammed in one of the city's slums, and meets street children and people living in severe poverty.