Q. How do you see the future of water transport services in Kerala?
The system is free of pollution, accidents and is affordable. There is an increase in the interest of passengers. We had a very difficult time with a paucity of boats and the docks to repair. That stage is over. Now, the number of passengers has increased to more than 60,000. This shows our credibility. Hence, we can look for expansion of our plans. In another eight months, we will add 14 new boats. It will have a speed of 12 nautical miles whereas most of the current boats have a maximum speed of six nautical miles.
Q. Can we expect a resumption of services which were stopped on many routes?
The Kottayam-Alappuzha service is one of the oldest modes of transportation in central Kerala. KSWTD operates this service after 1968, the year in which it started. It is almost 50 years now. Remember, there was no other mode of transport connecting the two places and road transport started after the two bridges - Pallathuruthy and Nedumudy - were opened. However, there is no dearth of demand for this service.
A number of families depend on this service. So, we wanted to resume it though we had to struggle a lot to clear the hindrances. There are a few other plans too. However, it is not possible to resume every other service which was disrupted. We cannot start the service on every water body, but we will look at the feasibility.
Q. What about the complaints on the Kottayam-Alappuzha service schedule?
There is a gap of nearly five hours after the first boat from Kottayam. We will address it soon. Then we will get another boat too. We are trying to operate boats to cater to the office-going crowd.
Q. What about the new services and projects?
Our primary focus is on passenger transport. However, we are trying to cater to the tourism sector too. We will start new services once our new fleet arrives. It will include air-conditioned boats too. One of them will be operated between Vaikom and Ernakulam and another between Alappuzha and Kottayam.
We are also planning to have a service from Kumarakom to Alappuzha. Then, a lot of tourists reaching Kumarakom can visit Alappuzha too. There are also plans to start a Ro-Ro service to Kumarakom. With the equal participation of the Tourism Department, a water hub is being constructed at our property at the Old Boat Jetty at Kottayam. It will be connected to Kodimatha, 3 km away.