Kochi: The Kochi Corporation is yet to sign a pact with the Kerala State Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) over operation of Roll-On Roll-Off Jhankars in key Vypeen-Fort Kochi section though one year has passed after rolling out of the two Ro-Ro vessels.
The reason being opposition of the KSINC to three additional clauses put forth by the corporation to be included in initial agreement. The agency is not liable to operate full-fledged services in the absence of a pact.
The KSINC recently shot off a letter stating that additional conditions are “unacceptable” and that the pact should be based on original terms of conditions.
One of the three conditions is that the KSINC should pay a fine of Rs 7500 per hour in case of a trip cancellation.
“How can we adhere to the condition without being provided with a spare vessel? The trips will have to be cancelled upon one of the jhankars developing technical snag or any other operational issue,” said a senior KSINC official.
Another condition is opening of a joint account from which the expenditures should be met.
As per the initial agreement drafted, the KSINC will be entrusted with Ro-Ro operations for a period of two years from the date of memorandum of understanding or the date of forming a special purpose vehicle. The contract period can be extended with mutual concent.
“Only one Ro-Ro vessel is deployed from morning to evening while the other is operated for a few hours in the evening. This has resulted in long queues at both jetties. The modern vessels were deployed after withdrawing two jhankars a year ago,” said Francis Chammany, president, Vypeen-Fort Kochi Ferry Passengers Association.
“The Kochi Corporation has not made arrangement for annual maintenance contract with the shipyard. This compels us to carry out repair and maintenance works all by ourselves. Since spareparts are all imported, it takes days to replace them even for small complaints. Hence we keep the second vessel as a stand-by and operate it only during peak hours,” the KSINC official said.
The section, cutting across sea channel, provides easy access to hundreds of vehicles from Vypeen to Fort Kochi and back.
The vehicles, upon taking the road route, will take over an hour instead of 10-minute ride by jhankar. Besides, the heavy traffic congestion in the city routes will further delay the journey.