‘Aarppoo Erroo’, cheered the crowd as the first boat service from Vyttila Mobility hub took off to Kakkanad on Tuesday.
Union Minister K V Thomas, who flagged off the service in a brief formal function, said the Vyttila-Kakkanad boat service will be a relief to hundreds of commuters daily.
He added that before the commissioning of the Kochi Metro Rail, the city will have a basic urban water transportation system.
“This is the first time in India that funds have been allocated by the Centre for water transportation. Throughout the world, metro projects are generating loss. We have envisioned water transportation projects and development of townships around Kochi, as part of the metro, to compensate for the loss of profit. The Vyttila-Kakkanad boat service is a first step towards this goal,” said the Minister.
From Wednesday onwards, two boats will be operated to and from Vytilla to Kakkanad, drastically reducing the travel time in this route. Six services will be conducted through the day.
The specially-designed boats by the Steel Industries Kerala Ltd (SILK) in Kannur can ferry 50 passengers and 10 motorbikes at a time, at a fare of `8 per service.
A jetty has been built at Vyttila, with a waiting shed and exclusive ramps constructed for passengers, as well as the motorbikes, and a similar one has been constructed at Kakkanad, near Infopark.
‘The African moss along the Kadambrayar river has also been weeded out.
The boat service has been projected as a feeder system for the Metro, said Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) managing director Elias George.
“The Kochi Metro was able to avail loans easily only because of the city’s opportunities in water transportation. Proposals for projects worth `40 crore has been submitted to the Centre for developing water transportation in the city and sanctions are awaited. Once it is implemented, only 12 minutes will be required to reach Kakkanad from Vyttila,” said Elias.
However, passengers said that the authorities missed to include peak hours of the day in the service schedules. At present, there are no services in the early mornings or in the evenings, the most likely hours when Inforpark employees are likely to avail the service.