One of the two container roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) ferries of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) that were handed over to the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) to ferry container lorries and motorists on the Willingdon Island-Bolgatty Island route, might operate in the Fort Kochi-Marine Drive corridor if everything goes well, official sources said.
This is because patronage for the ro-ro vessel that began operation a month ago is just picking up. Its sister vessel could thus be used to ferry commuters in the Fort Kochi-Marine Drive corridor, for which terminal facilities ought to be improved, KSINC sources said.
For a start, the Kochi Corporation-owned ferry, Fort Queen, which too was operated by KSINC and was lying idle for over a year after a pair of ro-ro vessels began service on the Fort Kochi-Vypeen route, could operate in the passenger-dense sector, using the existing infrastructure, they added.
Fort Queen, which was built at the KSINC yard in Thopumpady, is the biggest ferry in operation in Kochi and has seating capacity for 150 passengers. It was recently returned to the Kochi Corporation, after being dry docked at the KSINC yard. It can safely negotiate the Fort Kochi seamouth, since it was built as per specifications of a similar vessel that ferries commuters through the sea from the Kanyakumari beach to Vivekananda Rock Memorial, sources said.
Operating it in the Fort Kochi-Marine Drive sector did not materialise earlier, although the Kochi Corporation had probed the possibility. KSINC used to transport vehicles in the Marine Drive-Vypeen corridor in its junkar ferry service, an older version of the ro-ro vessels, till the trio of Goshree bridges were built 15 years ago.
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