KOCHI: Various political parties as well as voluntary organisations expressed their strong protests on Monday demanding CBI inquiry into the recent ferry boat mishap that claimed the lives of ten at Fort Kochi. A fishing boat had rammed into the ferry boat, carrying over thirty passengers, breaking it into two.
“The boats that are conducting services at Kammalakadavu Jetty, where the incident took place, are 35-years-old. The Corporation had earmarked these boats for decommissioning almost fifteen years back but the private agency which is operating the services are using the old, rickety boats to conduct the services,” alleged former councillor and Mattancherry Consumer Protection Council general secretary V J Hycinth.
It was in 1995 March that the Corporation which used to manage the ferry services decided to entrust the operations to private parties. Initially, the contract was given for 10 years.
In 2005, the corporation extended the contract. Almost all the passenger associations had expressed their concerns over the poor management of the services.
“It is mandatory that the Corporation should assess the condition of the boats but unfortunately they did not do so even after the existing contractor violated several major clauses in the agreement. They were not ready to cancel the contract even after many incidents of agreement violation,” he alleged.
Hycinth said that the major repair works including replacement of wooden planks and related works were not carried out by the agency.
“Instead of carrying out repairs they used to paint the boats every year at the Eda Kochi yard. We had pointed out these short comings to the present council several times,” he alleged.
He demanded that criminal case should be filed against the contractors who pressed the boat, which was unfit for ferrying passengers, into service along the route.
“The Mother Teresa Global foundation, Mattancherry, will soon launch an agitation seeking CBI investigation into the matter. The role of the officers who issued fitness certificate to the old boat should also be investigated into,” he added.
Meanwhile, a protest march was organised by CPI to the zonal office of Kochi Corporation at Fort Kochi, on Monday, demanding legal action against the contractors who were managing the boat service.
CPM will organise a protest meet at Kammalakkadavu on Tuesday demanding action against the agency and the officials who issued the fitness certificate to the boat.
CPM district secretary P Rajeeve will inaugurate the meeting.