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RORO Ferry Could Change Bhavnagar's Future, Say City Residents

The two points, Ghogha and Dahej, are separated by over 300 km of roadways. If one were to take a Gujarat Roadways bus, which has multiple stops along the way, it would take over 10 hours to complete the journey.

Uday Singh Rana | News18.com@UdaySRana

Updated:December 5, 2017, 8:52 AM IST
RORO Ferry Could Change Bhavnagar's Future, Say City Residents
PM Narendra Modi flagging off the inaugural run of the RORO Ferry service in Gujarat.
Bhavnagar: About 20 km south-west of the city, is a small village called Ghogha. Soon, this fishing and salt mining village could turn into Saurashtra’s window to the rest of the country.

Ghogha is one of the two ports in Gujarat where the RORO (Roll-on/Roll-off) Ferry operates. The other is in Bharuch’s Dahej, on the opposite side of the Gulf of Khambat.

Mohammed Aziz, who has set up a small tea shop outside the port, says, “This village had nothing but salt pans. Today, I have set up this shop here. Soon, there will be many more shops here. The future of Bhavnagar will change.”

The two points, Ghogha and Dahej, are separated by over 300 km of roadways. A road trip from one place to another would take around 9 hours and if one were to take a Gujarat Roadways bus, which has multiple stops along the way, it would take over 10 hours.

However, they are just 21 nautical miles, or 39 kilometres, apart by sea. Indigo Seaways, the company that won the contract to run the ferry, runs the service at a maximum speed of 25 knots (46.3 kmph) and an operational speed between 18-23 knots (33.3-42.6 kmph). This means that the ferry can traverse this distance in under an hour!

“The city has many traders who wish to go to big commercial centres like Surat. Diamond merchants will now be able to reach Surat in just a couple of hours. Before the ferry, it used to take over 10 hours,” said Chirag Trivedi, a Bhavnagar resident.

“There will be huge economic benefits to the region at large and Bhavnagar in particular. The service will not only ease travel but also help businesses grow, connecting Saurashtra to the golden quadrilateral and to major commercial centres like Vadodara, Surat and Mumbai,” said Devendra Manral, CEO of Indigo Seaways, to News18.

Many residents credit Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the project, as he had announced it in 2012 as then Gujarat Chief Minister and launched the service in October this year. However, this is not without criticism.

Bhavnagar traders, while enthusiastic about the new service, are wary that it is not yet a full “Roll-on/Roll-off” service. All that Indigo has been able to offer so far is a ferry for passengers. Vehicles and heavy cargo cannot be loaded on to the ferry yet. Sources say the election rush is to blame.

“The ship is docked on something called the pontoon, which is a floating platform at sea. The bridge that connects the road to the pontoon is called a ‘link-span’. For trucks, buses and cargo to be loaded on to ships, the link-span needs to be as wide as the road. The government wanted to launch the RORO service before the election but Indigo said they wouldn’t be able to meet that target. Their vendor did not have a wider link-span available. So while the full infrastructure is available at Dahej, that is not so at Bhavnagar,” a source said.

When News18 asked when full RORO services will begin, the Indigo Seaways CEO said, “As per our current schedule, we should be able to start full services by the end of January 2018. Once that happens, trucks and buses can be loaded on to the ferries. We will provide several facilities such as rest and showering facilities for truckers as well.”
| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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