Kochi: Kicking off its modernisation drive in the central region, the State Water Transport Department (SWTD) is all set to deploy the first IRS-class steel boat in the Vytilla-Kakkanad (Chittettukara) section on Saturday.
"It's the first steel boat to be built by conforming to the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS) specifications," said M Sujith, Ernakulam traffic superintendent, SWTD. "So far only fibre boats were rolled out as per the high safety standard. This is first of the five steel boats under the 'Lakshya' series."
The 75-passenger capacity boat (S-57) has already brought here and SWTD is currently conducting the trial runs. The boat with five compartment hull boasts of modern safety features including bilge, fire and smoke alarms.
"The bilge alarm will ring and alert the crew if water enters the hull. Simultaneously, an automatic pump sucking will start. The fire alarm will be sounded in the event of smoke or fire. The boat has high pressure jet pump to douse the flames," the official said.
The modern engine is also fitted with mileage sensor which guides the drivers in the smooth operation of the boat. The interiors are spacious and have modern seating.
"The boat can cruise at a speed of eight knots without creating ripple waves. This will not put single snake boat operators at difficulty," the official said.
The existing boat deployed in the route will be taken to the Thevara dry dock for repairs.
Meanwhile, the SWTD authorities are planning to provide an additional stop to 'Vega', the fast ferry conducting service in the Vaikom-Ernakulam section. "We plan to provide a halt at Manappuram near Arukutty," sources said....