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    People renew demands for pending boat service

    KOCHI: Even as more and more people are making use of the boat services in the Fort Kochi region, the proposal to kick-start boat services between Ernakulam and Kamala Kadavu in Fort Kochi has been on papers for the past five years.And the demand for the boat services have become persistent. “Almost every day there are enquiries for the boat services to and from Kamala Kadavu. People prefer the service as it is easier and time saving than the existing service from Ernakulam to Customs jetty in Fort Kochi,” Mani K, station master at Ernakulam Boat Jetty. The reason, he said, is that the passengers have to walk for almost a kilometre from the Customs jetty to reach the heart of Fort Kochi. The proposal for the boat services was made when the Kerala State Water Department (KSWD) officials, five years ago realised the demand for the boat service from the Kochi region was huge.“During the construction of the Thoppumpady bridge, heavy traffic blocked the roads to Ernakulam from Fort Kochi. The demand for the service picked up then and continues to be high even today,” said Ubase S, a passenger.To meet the demand, the KSWTD started the service for a brief period of two weeks. But soon, they pulled out. “The department soon realised that the service was unprofitable because people were not using the boats as the demand had suggested,” Joseph Xavier, Superintendent at the Ernakulam Boat Jetty said.According to the passengers’ association members, the reason they could not use the service effectively was because the boats took off immediately as it berthed at the jetty. “The boats would not even wait for a minute. Also, people were only getting to know about the service. However by then, the department had pulled out the boat suggesting losses,” they said.Also, the fares were much higher than the usual. “They were charging Rs 5 and we are willing to agree to the fare if the services get started once again,” Ubase added.However, KSWTD officials claim that the increased fare and the lack of berthing time at the jetty was mainly because of the competition from the private agents, who had also started tourist services from there. “Also, the threat of destruction of the boats because of the rough sea during certain seasons was also another factor. Overlooking the threat, we have made another proposal to the State government to start the services and are still waiting a response,” Joseph added. MLA Dominic Presentation also said that the existing proposal will be strongly considered as the demand for the service has increased.