Despite a warning issued by Cochin Port Trust late last month against boats plying in port waters without renewing their licences, there is no clarity on the authority that will re-license the boats in the wake of new regulations prescribing registration of boats under Kerala Inland Vessel Rules 2010, in effect from April 30, 2010.
An official in the State Water Transport Department said on Saturday that there was no indication as to which authority would renew licences and issue certificates to the crew under the new rules.
Enquiries with the Port Trust had not produced any clarity on the matter even as the port authority was learnt to have directed the Water Transport Department to approach the Mercantile Marine Department office on Willingdon Island to make clarifications, the official added.
The official said there had been no training of crew and preparations for tests under the Mercantile Marine Department rules for a long time now. It would be difficult, the official said, to switch to a new licensing system without due preparations.
The Port Trust had warned that the majority of boats and water vessels, including the junkar service between Fort Kochi and Vypeen, would have to renew their licences. In response, the Director of Ports Jacob Thomas had said that boats and vessels plying the port waters were to renew their licences annually and the process was on.
The new rules came into effect after the Thattekkad boat tragedy in February 2007. However, the Port Trust’s early directive had been issued in the wake of an incident in which a passenger ferry belonging to State Water Transport Department had a brush with INS Viraat late last year in which the boat had a narrow escape.