Passengers have lambasted the State Water Transport Department (SWTD) for its reluctance to operate sufficient boat services from the city to West Kochi to cater to the festive rush.

Tourists, who depend on the service to get to heritage sites such as Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, have returned disappointed from boat jetties. “Many commuters are unable to board ferries as they are packed with tourists to the State. The SWTD operates only four boats on the route, instead of the sanctioned five,” said Padmanabha Mallya, secretary of West Kochi Passengers’ Association. He said higher-ups in the department and people’s representatives failed to address passengers’ woes.

The association’s demand to introduce season ticket had fallen on deaf ears. A senior SWTD official said a few key officials were insensitive to the demands.

“More boats can easily be operated, but higher-ups are reluctant to act,” he said. Passengers to Mattancherry say boats do not call at their boat jetty as SWTD and Irrigation Department have not yet dredged the shallow waters.

Even existing boats are not put to optimum use. Raising the upper limit of 100 passengers per boat to at least 150 passengers has been a long-standing demand. “Steel boats can safely carry up to 200 people,” an SWTD official said. SWTD’s delay in supplying diesel from its Ernakulam Boat Jetty fuelling station has affected the regular schedule of boats.

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