KOCHI:Barely 24 hours after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan launched the Corporation’s eagerly anticipated Ro-Ro( Roll-on, Roll-off) vessel for the Fort Kochi- Vypeen route, the state-run Kerala State Inland Navigation Corporation(KSINC) tasked with the operation of the vessel was forced to suspend the service citing technical glitches in the construction of the mooring facility.
The Ro-Ro service will now be resumed by May 10. “ The work on the mooring facility at the jetty is yet to be completed. Though it’s not necessary for operating the service, there is the possibility of the vessel suffering damage on account of this. The bottom hull might well bump against the concrete portion of the jetty,” said a KSINC officer.However, another KSINC officer said the lack of a valid licence and insurance prompted the suspension of the service.
Heartbreak for residents
With the KSINC immediately suspending the service, the western kochites who reached the jetty to experience the first ride on the vessel suffered a huge disappointment. “ Really it’s a disappointing day for us as we came to experience a ride in the newly- launched vessel. Its only after reading the signboard we could understand the vessels were suspended for another 10 days. What was the need for organising an inauguration with such fanfare?,” said Ismail, a Kunnumpuram resident.
“ Really this is tantamount to insulting the CM and both the KSINC and the Corporation are equally responsible. Since the CM was the first to take a ride on the Ro-Ro vessel, it was the duty of both the Corporation and KSINC to ensure the technical glitches were fixed before launching the project,” said Manju Komath, another resident.
‘Mayor should step down’
In the wake of the virtual anti-climax, Leader of Opposition in the Corporation council K J Antony, who already flagged the uncertainty in launching the vessel, demanded Mayor Soumini Jain’s immediate resignation from the post.“ I have raised these issues before the Corporation council on several occasions.“The Corporation has insulted our Chief Minister as he was forced to travel in an unlicensed and uninsured vessel. Even the mooring facility too has been a failure. Though we had raised the issue, the Corporation chose to look the other way. They insulted the Chief Minister,” he said.
The Corporation, though, chose to pass the buck to the KSINC , as according to the civic body it was the absence of a service engineer for operating the vessel which forced the KSINC to suspend the service.
“ Since they (KSINC officers) are experts in operating the vessel, they have a clear idea about the documents and certificates needed for the running the vessel.“Since the KSINC has proven expertise in building and operating the vessels we entrusted it with the operation.“If they have an issue in operating the service they should have informed the council but they haven’t done it,” said a top officer with the Corporation.
According to him, the KSINC suspended the vessel as it lacked the services of a technical expert for operating the service.“An engineer from the Cochin Shipyard Ltd operated the service on the inaugural day. But the CSL was not ready to provide their staff on the second day. Since the KSINC did not have an in-house expert to operate the service they were forced to suspend the service,” said the officer.
Mayor Soumini Jain told Express said a meeting of the KSINC, the Cochin Port Trust which constructed the jetties and the CSL will be convened on Monday.“ We don’t know why the KSINC has stopped the service. A meeting of officers will be convened on Monday. Only after this, we will be able to know the exact reason for suspending the service,” Jain said.
The civic body has spent C16 cr on the vessel and setting up of the facilities connected with the Ro-Ro services.
The civic body has also been accused of not taking steps to obtain regulatory clearances for the services despite the project being in the air for quite long
The old jhankar service was stopped on December 6, 2017 on the promise of the introduction of the Ro-Ro service
Although CSL completed the construction of the vessel and handed it over to the civic body it was not having any clue on how to operate the services