KOCHI: Close on the heels of winning the Gustave Trouve Award for Excellence in Electric Boats and Boating for Aditya, India’s first solar ferry that commutes on the Vaikom-Thavanakkadavu route in the Vembanad backwaters, Kochi-based firm Navgathi have built another first in the state - water taxis. Among the four boats built, the State Water Transport Department (SWTD) will launch the first on October 9 in the backwaters of Alappuzha. Ernakulam too will have a water taxi soon.
As one can guess, the water taxis will function similarly to road taxis. The stationed boats can be summoned anywhere -- passengers can dial a specific number and the boat will be at their service. The10-seater boat will have tariffs by the hour and at a reasonable rate. “The diesel-powered water taxis have a speed of 15 nautical miles per hour. While the first boat will be launched in Alappuzha, it is highly likely that Ernakulam will have one too. We haven’t decided the locations of the other boats yet,” said Shaji V Nair, director, SWTD.
Sandith Thandasherry, founder-CEO of Navgathi, highlighted that the water taxis are catamarans, like Aditya. “Catamarans are more stable than single-hull boats. It has a streamlined shape with lower engine power due to higher efficiency and reduces fuel consumption. Such boats are perfect to carry passengers,” he said. Sandith added that the boats could be tethered to stations and can arrive at the beck and call of commuters.
“The water taxis are easy to manoeuvre and have a low draft — less than two feet of water will suffice. As a result, the water taxis are nimble and can travel to any small region,” he added. While IRS (Indian Register of Shipping) boats take six months to be built replete with approval and testing, the water taxis took a slightly longer time as work was slower during the past nine months owing to yard restrictions and import delay.