Private tourist boats are continuing their operations from the Ernakulam Boat Jetty, despite a State Water Transport Department employee suffering a fractured leg after a private tourist boat rammed a passenger ferry operated by the department on Sunday.

The incident took place near the Ernakulam Boat Jetty. One leg of Harisankar, a lascar of the boat, was crushed between his ferry and another as the tourist boat rammed one of the ferries, said a Water Transport official. A complaint has been registered, since tourist boats are illegally calling at the jetty which was allotted exclusively to the Water Transport Department to ferry passengers to West Kochi and Vypeen. “We have taken up the issue with the District Collector,” he said.

The injured employee was admitted to the Ernakulam General Hospital. Safety concerns posed by tourist boats operating from the jetty have been highlighted earlier. Any collision involving the ferries and tourist boats in the shipping channel would have disastrous consequences.

“Sunday's accident has not prevented the tourist boats from calling at our jetty. Very often, they take over gates that are manned by our personnel. Despite our requests, policemen have not been posted to prevent scuffles between our crew and theirs. Our employees have threatened to go on a strike if private boats continue calling at our jetty. Passengers too are opposed to the operation of private boats,” the official said.

He added that as per navigation rules, a boat can call near another boat only in case of emergency. “But here, tourist boats come too close to our vessels, often scraping the side. This is extremely dangerous.”

Interestingly, Kerala Tourism, which is unable to maintain the cleanliness of the boat jetty owned by it, issued permission to private boat operators to operate from the jetty over a month ago. This had come in for criticism from different quarters, including from people's representatives, since the jetty was built for passenger ferries.

Hundreds of tourists visit the jetty to check into ferries that ply to Fort Kochi and Mattancherry.

The Central PWD withdrew its workers from the jetty after Kerala Tourism refused to clear its dues for many of the construction works. As a result, the jetty building and its premises are in horrible condition, ill-lit and sans water.

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