KOCHI: State Water Transport Department (SWTD) Ernakulam will get its second 100-seater catamaran passenger boat in the next two weeks time period. The new boats will ply on the Ernakulam—Fort Kochi—Vypeen route ensuring more passengers can be on board the vessel at a given time.“The work of the second 100-seater boat was over two months ago. But the IRS certification was pending. The certification procedure will be complete soon. We expect it to be operational by April 14. The boat is constructed with new technology and easy to operate on the Erankulam— Fort Kochi—Vypeen route where the boat ply through shipping channel,” M Sujith, Superintendent SWTD Ernakulam said.
The catamaran boats built by Praga Marine, Aroor, cost Rs 1.9 crore each. These boats can attain a speed of seven nautical miles per hour. With two hulls, these boats are safer than boats with single hull operated by SWTD now. There are two hull chambers with an automatic pump facility to prevent sinking, in case water enters one of the chambers. Apart from that, the boat has an additional engine and propeller in case the primary engine and propeller become dysfunctional and the boat starts to drift to the seaside.
“These catamaran boats come with glass made sliding windows replacing tarpaulin which has durability issues. The passenger complained about the hot temperature inside the boat and considering it, we installed rotational fans for their comfort,” Sujith said.
SWTD has decided to replace the entire fleet in Ernakulam with catamaran boats. As part of it, seven such boats were ordered and five are under construction. SWTD is expecting to get other boats in the next 45 days interval after the second boat gets IRS certification. Meanwhile, the high-speed boat Vega operating between Vaikom- Ernakulam- Vaikom will be operational in the next two days. The boat was under annual maintenance work for the last one week. The work is almost complete and it is expected to be delivered by Tuesday or Wednesday.
SWTD is also expecting to operate boats to Mattanchery where dredging is required to anchor boats. An official with the Irrigation department said that the tender has been given for the work. “Due to election code of conduct, the dredging work at Mattanchery is pending. Due to the accumulation of silt, the boats cannot be anchored at Mattanchery boat jetty now. There are funds sanctioned for works at five jetties- Mattanchery, Fort Kochi, Vypeen, Thevara and Kumbalam,” he said.