Re-routing of container-laden lorries through Kundanoor-Edappally NH Bypass and the resultant increase in traffic congestion on the bypass has led to an all-round demand for introducing more RoRo (Roll-on Roll-off) vessels between Willingdon Island and Vallarpadam.
Because of the massive traffic snarls at four major junctions on NH Bypass, container lorries had been diverted through Seaport-Airport Road. But their journey through the Bypass was restored in June, after trailer operators and drivers cited difficulties in commuting through the narrow Kundanoor-Pettah-Irumpanam stretch to reach Seaport-Airport Road.
Assistant Commissioner of Edappally Traffic Police, P.P. Shams said trailers were banned through the Bypass from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. “Further regulations might be necessary when work on four flyovers gain pace. We can implement regulations if Regional Transport Authority (RTA) takes a decision on this,” he said.
Trailer operators and other stakeholders have demanded introduction of at least one more RoRo vessel through the backwaters, to lessen congestion caused by such lorries in the busy road. But sources associated with container transport said even the existing RoRo vessel was under-utilised. “The vessel has a capacity to hold 20 container lorries and can ply up to 24 trips each day. Not even 50 per cent of its capacity is being utilised, because trailer operators and drivers prefer to commute through the bypass though they incur double the operational expenses as compared to Rs. 600 (for 20-feet container) for a one-way RoRo trip. This is apart from congestion, pollution, accidents and road rage caused by trailers,” they said.
The RoRo currently ferries less than 100 trailers, which is around one-fifth of its capacity.
K T Sajeev, president of Cochin Container Carrier Owners’ Welfare Association, spoke of how trailers sometimes had to wait for around three hours for the RoRo. “Trailer drivers get disillusioned since they are unable to operate optimal number of trips daily, which affects their trip-based wages. RoRo will get more patronage if more such vessels are put into service, so that trailers need not wait for so long. Cochin Port Trust must take the initiative in this regard,” he said. Steps must also be taken to widen Kundanoor-Irumpanam stretch so that heavy vehicles could easily commute through it, Mr. Sajeev said.
Rebutting the claim of three-hour wait for RoRo, sources said it generally took an hour for a return trip. “The commuting time between the two points is just 22 minutes, while driving trailers in and out of RORO takes seven minutes at each point,” they said.