Passengers commuting between Fort Kochi and Vypeen have been severely affected as one of the junkars have turned non-operational. The junkar service is the sole means by which vehicles can be ferried between the two islands and the two available junkars here carry approximately 30 vehicles each.
According to Joseph, a resident of Vypeen, it has been over a month since one of the junkars turned defunct. “We have been forced to make do with a single junkar and the public are facing hardships. Many people who live here commute daily to Fort Kochi. Those travelling to Alappuzha and other routes too depend on the facility,” he added.
Earlier, if the junkars had conducted services every 30 minutes, now the passengers have to wait for more than one-and-a-half hours for the next service. If both the junkars are operational, more than 100 services can be conducted.
S Padmanabha Mallya, secretary, Paschima Kochi Passengers Association alleged that the private company operating the junkars for the Kochi Corporation are apathetic to the needs of the public.
The junkar services are conducted from 6.15 am to 10.30 pm. The rush is acutely felt on the weekdays. Adding to the woes is the fact that of the two boats that ply between the islands, one of them have stopped the service.
“This is a huge issue because even the Kerala State Water Transport Department does not operate services in the route,” said a passenger.
Meanwhile, the operators of the junkar said it has been docked up for maintenance.
“Though the maintenance work has been completed, services cannot be run unless the Ports Department gives the green signal. We expect to receive it this week. Junkars have to be repaired once in a while to ensure its smooth functioning. Though one of the junkars are taken up one for maintenance, the other will be fully operational,” an employee said.
Kochi Corporation Town Standing Committee chairman K J Sohan said the
non-operation of the junkar services are becoming frequent these days and the situation has to be looked into more seriously.
No boats too
The private boat service between Varappuzha and Kochi, which was operational for the past two decades, have been completely brought to a halt leaving students and residents of Moolampilly, Pizhala and Chennur islands in a fix.
The service, M B Velankanni, was operated by an individual. However, he was forced to withdraw the service due to losses. With schools reopening and no boat service connecting the island to the city, children are left with no choice but to take the long route to the city. Currently, there are demands urging the KSWTD to operate services in the route here.