Boat jetties in Kochi are falling apart, brick by brick, for lack of upkeep and vision

Boat jetties in the city are a crying shame and need immediate attention — largely from the authorities and to a lesser extent from the passengers who use them.

The much-advertised Ernakulam Boat Jetty, the newest addition to tourist and passenger infrastructure for the city on the waterfront, highlights the carelessness with which assets are taken care of.

The walkway that leads to the jetty is lined with overgrown grass. It is no place where a tourist or a boat passenger will spend more time than what is needed to take the ferry to destination.

A visit to the boat jetty on Tuesday showed how poorly the infrastructure, the ownership of which is still under dispute, is maintained.

There is no stopping some of the passengers from spitting on the wall, says a State Water Transport Department official. These passengers may do well to spare a little time to read the warning against spitting on the walls.

Secretary of West Kochi Boat Passengers’ Association S. Padmanabha Mallya says a lot of efforts had to be made to see that high mast lights were erected. The boat jetty, poorly maintained and neglected, has turned into a haunt for criminals during the dark hours, he says.

A senior official of the State Water Transport Department concedes that there are some deficiencies that needed to be addressed. However, the question of ownership of the property needed to be settled though the question of the ownership of the boat jetty had been settled.

The boat jetty that primarily served tourists and boats ferrying people to Varappuzha on the GCDA-maintained Marine Drive is in a shambles. The roofs have disappeared and the ramshackle shed that passes for the boat jetty and shelter are eyesores.

The boat jetties in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry are also in poor shape. The Fort Kochi jetty, where the privately operated jankar and boat services berth, need immediate attention. The building has not seen any improvement since it was inaugurated in 1974 by the Corporation of Cochin.

The condition of the Mattancherry boat jetty too is appalling and needs immediate attention. Mr. Mallya says the Mattancherry jetty needs immediate dredging. There is no clarity yet on who should take up the work.

The boats are often secured to the pillars, a practice that can damage the building, he says.

There is a great demand for an alternative to road transport. But the boat jetties are ignored.

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