Majority of Kadamakudi residents forced to commute in makeshift jankars
The news of a boat tragedy sends chills down the spine of Kadamakudi residents.
For, they know disaster can strike them any moment as they travel in unsafe jankars, sans any safety measures, every day.
A large number of residents of Kadamakudi islands, which are located on the outskirts of Kochi city, commute between the mainland and their homes in makeshift jankars.
No road connectivity
A jankar operated in the sector is nothing but a platform stretched on two country vessels, powered by a motor.
Of the nearly 20,000 population of the local body, majority are forced to take this precarious ride as road connectivity is still a distant dream.
Only the Kothad and Moolampilly islands enjoy road connectivity to the mainland by bridges.
The panchayat had been auctioning the right to operate six jankars for ferrying passengers and vehicles for the past nine years as the proposals for bridges are caught in red tape.
Besides these makeshift jankars, one country craft is still in service in Pizhala-Cheranalloor-Chariyamthuruthu route, which also ferries a few persons ready to take the high risk of travelling in an open country boat.
During the peak hours, the jankars are overloaded with passengers and vehicles, and the brim of the boats almost touches the water level.
“It’s a very risky ride and the danger of a boat tragedy is very much a reality in the area. The news of Alapuzha boat tragedy rekindled the fears of an imminent accident lurking in the placid waters,” admitted K.V. Williams, vice-president of the panchayat.
The jankars are owned by private individuals who are supposed to go by the design provided by the Cochin Port Trust authorities.
Some jankars might have outlived its age. But, the panchayat cannot be choosy about the vessels as only a few jankars are available for service in the sector.
Some time back, one jankar in Pizhala went out of service. The panchayat failed to renew the service as there were no takers for it leaving people in the lurch, said Mr. Williams.
Shijo Antony, a resident of the island, said most jankars operated in the sector lacked essential safety measures.
Though the residents were aware of the risks, they were forced to travel on these vessels. In some cases, even aged country boats are used to make jankars, risking the lives of passengers, he said.
The civic representative said the delay in constructing the bridges, despite earmarking funds for them, would be raised with the authorities.