Boat passengers in West Kochi have demanded better services and called for an end to what they described as “Tughlugian” reforms introduced by the Water Transport Department in scheduling services.

Leaders of Paschima Kochi Passengers’ Association alleged that the “circular services” introduced by the department in August this year had inconvenienced boat passengers. The services only make the passengers “go around in circles”, said M. Govind Mallya, organising secretary of the association, at a press conference here on Saturday.

He said the recent decision by the Water Transport Department to take away one of the boats on the West Kochi route for the Kakkanad-Vyttila Hub service was another setback. There are just five boats available for regular services on Ernakulam-Mattancherry-Fort Kochi route.

The passengers, mostly daily-wage earners taking advantage of the low passenger fare, have been inconvenienced immensely by the recent decision to take away one of the boats from the Ernakulam mainland-West Kochi route.

The passengers’ association claimed the Ernakulam-West Kochi route was the most profitable route for the Water Transport Department and that this factor should be taken into consideration while scheduling the services.

The association members also alleged that the department had taken decisions “unilaterally” on re-arranging schedules even though passengers’ representatives were called to a meeting to discuss the issues.

They also alleged that since the Vyttila-Kakkanad boat service was not profitable, it was now being used to transport diesel. Mr. Mallya said the plight of the boat passengers in West Kochi was brought to the notice of the Chief Minister, the Minister for Transport as well as the MLAs from Kochi and Ernakulam. But it had not yielded any result so far, he said.

The passengers have demanded dredging of the Mattancherry jetty on a war footing. While the boat services take 20 minutes from Fort Kochi to Ernakulam, the buses take about 40 minutes, they said.

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