Corp torpedos Ro-Ro

No AMC with shipyard, no spare parts, claims KSINC.

Kochi: It's has been exactly a year since the Kochi corporation rolled out two roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) vessels but the Kerala State Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC), entrusted with the operation, is yet to make full-fledged operations in the Fort Kochi-Vypeen section.

"Only one Ro-Ro vessel is deployed from morning to evening while the other is operated for only a few hours in the evening," said Francis Chammany, president, Vypeen-Fort Kochi Ferry Passengers Association. "This has resulted in long queues at both jetties." The modern vessels were deployed after withdrawing two jhankars.

The section, cutting across the sea channel, provides easy access to hundreds of vehicles from Vypeen to Fort Kochi and back as it covers the distance in 10 minutes while a ride through the congested city roads would take almost an hour. Besides, it would add to the city traffic woes.

The local residents charge KINCO authorities have no interest in starting the full-fledged operations of the two modern vessels.

"The city corporation is making a daily payment of Rs 22,500 to KINCO for operating a boat service in the same section. The latter fear the full-fledged Ro-Ro operations will force them to withdraw the boat service due to lack of patronage and lose out the revenue. Hence they are not deploying the second vessel on one ground or other," said Mr Chammany.

When contacted, a KSINC official said they were unable to conduct full-fledged operations without a spare Jhankar. "Despite our frequent request, the Kochi Corporation has not made arrangements for annual maintenance contract with the shipyard," said the official. "This compels us to carry out the repair and maintenance works all by ourselves. Since the spare parts are all imported, it takes days to replace them even for small complaints. Hence we decided to keep the second vessel as a stand-by and operate it only during peak hours."

The KSINC had earlier claimed shortage of expert drivers but now there are three 'masters' to operate the vessels. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan launched the Ro-Ro service in the sector on April 28, 2018.

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