Unchecked passage of box lorries and subsequent worsening of traffic snarls at heavily barricaded junctions on the NH Bypass have given impetus to the demand to reintroduce India’s first roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) vessel that ferried 20 field-weighted down lorries at a time among Willingdon Island and Bolgatty till 2017.
The vessel that might transport as much as 800 lorries each day then was an alleviation to the harried commuters along the 1-km-lengthy Kundannoor bridge, 16-km-long Edappally-Aroor NH Bypass, and slim metropolis roads although it transported a mean of 250 lorries day by day. The walking time via avenue turned into over 3 hours thru Kundannoor, Maradu, Seaport-Airport Road, Kalamassery, and Container Terminal Road, a distance of just about forty km.
However, the patronage suffered later due to the reluctance of a segment of lorry drivers and owners to avail the carrier. Another motive was that the ro-ro vessel seldom carried the whole complement of 20 lorries at a time because of worries over the shallow National Waterway III channel among the two islands.
Much to the surprise of commuters and port stakeholders, the carrier became withdrawn in 2017 via the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) following variations of opinion with Lots Shipping, the vessel’s operator, over the quantum of security deposit. The operator expressed incapability to pay the ₹15-lakh deposit, mentioning insufficient patronage for the vessel and the frequent damage it sustained because of the alleged reluctance on the part of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) to dredge the channel to make the certain depth of two.5 meters.
Shallow waters
“The depth in several areas become as low as 1.4 meters. This resulted inside the fully-loaded vessel getting damaged on many activities. The number of lorries in step with ride needed to be lessened, even during high tide, to save you such incidents. The state of affairs changed into such that many journeys were canceled in the course of low tide. On its element, the IWAI refused to dredge the channel even though it maintained the channel and owned the berthing terminal in Bolgatty Island. All this hampered the choicest utilization of the vessel which can navigate via the waterway both during day and night,” said stakeholders who were related to its operation.
A senior IWAI reliable stated the NW III has an average intensity of two meters, utilized by even 500-tonne barges.
“The ro-ro provider among the 2 isles may be resumed as soon as of our vessels which are being built at Cochin Shipyard are commissioned in February 2020,” he stated. The port insisting on ₹15-lakh safety deposit came as a bolt from the blue when you consider that it’d further make a dent inside the vessel’s financial viability. The service couldn’t be salvaged even though its operators ran from pillar to submit, they delivered.
Turnaround time
It is noteworthy that the vessel could transport up to forty lorries at some stage in a return trip which took less than an hour. It could cover the gap among the two islands in 18 minutes, some thing that lorries, which used the NH Bypass and Container Road, took over ninety mins.
Arbitration under way
With the stalemate over the operation of ro-ro vessel occurring for the beyond years, call for is rife that government companies like KSINC operate the vessel which is now idling at Bolgatty Island. They may want to take it on rent or rent and function it to lessen traffic snarls on the skip and different congested corridors, official resources stated.
Cochin Port Trust chairperson M. Beena said the port was no longer in a position to restore the vessel’s operation because an arbitration system changed into beneath way among the operator and the port following the withdrawal of carrier.
Taking observe of the mounting traffic keep-use due to box lorries, the port has sought the introduction of a comparable ro-ro provider among the isles as quickly as feasible.
The count becomes taken up multiple instances with KSINC and recently with the Transport Department, it’s miles learned.
KSINC dealing with director Prasanth Nair stated KSINC may want to function a ro-ro carrier in the hall, supplied it’s miles technically and commercially feasible.

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