Problems Rock City Boat Service
Kochi: Official apathy is paving the way for the deterioration of the boat service, which was launched with great expectations and fanfare more than an year ago, from Vyttila Mobility Hub to Kakkanad. Despite being the easiest and cheapest way to reach Kakkanad bypassing the traffic congestion, the city water bus, is yet to become a popular mode of transport thanks to the faulty system.
The regular users of the service are still those working at the Infopark, Civil Station and people living in around 1 km radius of the boat jetties. According to many passengers, the service fails to cater to those from the southern side. “Majority of the passengers from the southern side are not aware of the boat service as they disembark outside the Hub, since most of the city buses do not enter the Hub,” said Rajesh.
Regulars feel that the service should be extended to Pallikara, which is very near to the famous amusement park Wonder La. This will prove beneficial for the tourists and in turn attract more of them. They said that the services should also be extended to 7pm starting from 7am.“Traveling by bike or the ferry service takes the same amount of time. But if the timing of the boat service is changed to that from till 7am to 7pm, more people who come to the office by bike would take the ferry instead,” said Vishnu, an employee of TCS, Infopark.
“After the introduction of the feeder bus service from Kakkanad to Infopark, Civil Station and the collect orate, there has been an increase in the number of passengers using this service. But since the service ends early, college students from various institutes like Rajagiri group of colleges cannot make use of this boat service,” said Bindhu another employer from TCS, Infopark.
“The feeder bus service was begun one and half years ago, but many are still unaware of the facility. The peak time is usually around 9am and 5pm,” said Manaf, the driver of the feeder bus which goes till the Infopark.
Earlier, it was difficult to find out where the service was operated from. Even the security guards were unaware about the whereabouts of the station. Now, however, a small sign board, which is not enough to catch attention, has been erected along a narrow cemented pathway where the blue and white boat is docked.Various problems have been plaguing the service and the five member crew is fighting hard on a daily basis to keep it afloat.
“Yesterday I got stranded as the 1:30pm ferry service was cancelled. I had to catch an auto and pay up `100 to reach my office at the Infopark. The service was cancelled without any any prior notice,” said Rohith, working at a firm in Infopark.
Ramanan, the boat master, had a different take on the situation. He said,”We had run out of fuel and to get a refill we have to travel a long way to Ernakulam Jetty. This happens often. It would be better if a fuel station or any arrangement for fuel is set up at the Vyttila Hub.”
The city at present has only four jetties, namely Vyttila, S N Jetty, Arattukadavu and Kakkanad. However, people from Eroor, Irumbanam and Thudhiyoor have no access to these services. Every time the boat docks at the recently commissioned Arattukadavu and S N Jetties, it hits the concrete bank as no proper docking facilities are available at both these jetties.
“Do you notice the vibrations and loud motor sounds coming from the boat? It is because of the water hyacinths, algae and other waste materials that get entangled in the propeller of the boat. The authorities aren’t bothered to clear the waterways. I can’t recall the last time when dredging was done along this route,” said Sidharthan.
Browse While You Sail
Kakkanad: Soon people using the feeder service, that has been launched for complimenting Vyttila-Kakkand boat service, will be able to use Wi-Fi facility. Kochi Metro Rail limited, providing the feeder service, plans to install Wi-Fi technology.
“We are planning to install the facility in our new feeder service that will begin from May 18. The tendering procedure for the feeder service has been almost finalised. We are making all efforts to promote the boat service by installing new technologies,” said KMRL spokesperson.
Apart from this KMRL also will install GPS facility on the feeder service. The mini bus, which serves as the feeder service, carries passengers from the City Water Bus Boat jetty at Kakkanad to Infopark via Collectrate junction.
The trip from Kakkanad Jetty starts from 7am. The feeder service makes a minimum of 8 round trips on all days including Sundays. The passengers who travel by the City Water Bus Boat service will not have to pay for using the feeder bus service.
Ferry Service Extension Still at Port
Kakkanad: Two years ago in a meeting held under the leadership of the then District Collector P I Sheikh Pareeth it was decided to extend the Vyttila- Kakkanad service to Infopark.
The decision was taken after the district administration was swamped by the demands of those who travel to Kakkanad and also the Infopark employees. However, nothing concrete has materialised till date. It seems the present district administration is no mood to act upon the matter.
Since the boat jetty is situated at Chittethukara, two kilometres away from the Infopark, feeder service is the only option available before the passengers to reach their destination, which are mainly the Infopark, district administration and other main government offices.
“The irrigation department has been assigned the task of dredging Kadambrayar river. This is a much needed step for the extension of the boat service. A joint inspection had been carried out by the irrigation department, water transport department and district administration two years but nothing happened after that. The project will benefit a large number of people only if it is extend it up to the Infopark,” said a senior official under condition of anonymity.
However, the irrigation department, which has been assigned the task of dredging Kadambrayar river, said that the project will can be kicked off only if the government installs a permanant regulator at Kozhichira.
“At present a temporary bund has been constructed across Kadambrayar river to supply water to hundreds of families. If we extend the boat service the bund will have to be demolished and it is not feasible in the present situation,” said a source on condition of anonymity.
He also added that the extension will be possible only if a permanent regulator is built on the Kadambrayar.
“We have submitted a `23 crore proposal to the government regarding the construction of a permanent regulator. Only after the implementation of the project will we be able to think about the extension of the ferry service,” said the source.
“The decision on the extension of boat service can’t be taken blindly as at present water is being distributed from Kadambrayar river to nearby areas. A plan has to be drawn up keeping this in mind. We will consider the matter seriously and will hold a meeting with the officials and the people’s representatives,” said District Collector M G Rajamanickam.
––with inputs from Nantha Kishore and Junaid Rajah