Shoddy state of jetties hits boat service to Fort Kochi, Mattancherry

The Fort Kochi boat jetty which is in a dilapidated state.

The Fort Kochi boat jetty which is in a dilapidated state.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Since these jetties are old, they cannot be renovated in a piecemeal manner, says an official

Strewn with garbage and broken glass, the boat jetties at Mattancherry and Fort Kochi are a picture of neglect even as spanking new jetties for the Water Metro are set to come up next door.

The State Water Transport Department (SWTD) had stopped its service to Mattancherry a year ago, inconveniencing residents and tourists.

Service to the jetty had to be discontinued after the 2018 floods when the department received complaints of damage to the hulls and propellers of six boats which attempted to halt at the jetty, said an SWTD official. Pieces of wood and mud had accumulated making the movement of boats impossible till the area was dredged, he said.

25 trips

Three boats now undertake 25 trips beginning from the Ernakulam jetty and terminating at the customs jetty at Kalvathi, nearly 2 km away from the jetty at Mattancherry.

Only the high speed double hull Vega boats are equipped to begin service from the Kamalakadavu tourist jetty at Fort Kochi.

These boats ran a total of 12 trips daily, the official said, halting at the customs jetty on their way from Fort Kochi to Ernakulam.

Waste and broken glass are scattered across what should have been the ticket counters at Kamalakadavu.

“Since the Vega boats are infrequent, Fort Kochi residents end up having to take an auto to the customs jetty for the more frequent SWTD ferries that ply every 20 minutes,” said Merlin Justin, a resident of Fort Kochi who travels the route often.

The Irrigation Department, which is responsible for the upkeep of the jetties and the dredging of the waters near it, would soon submit estimates to the government for the renovation of around five jetties including Mattancherry, Fort Kochi, Vypeen, Thevara and Kumbalanghi, said an official at the department.

“The jetties at Fort Kochi and Mattancherry are in a bad shape. Though the SWTD had set aside ₹7 lakh over a year ago for the renovation of the Fort Kochi jetty, nobody was willing to take up the tenders because of the extent of work that was required,” the official said.

“Since these jetties are old, they cannot be renovated in a piecemeal manner and need to be overhauled entirely. The jetty at Mattancherry used to be one of the busiest on the route till the service was stopped,” the official added.

“The Mattancherry service used to be convenient for tourists visiting the Jew Town area. Some tourists still come looking for the jetty,” a shop owner near the jetty said.

The service from Ernakulam to Mattancherry was reportedly the first in the district and was started by S. Koder, a merchant in Jew Town, in the early 1900s. It was later taken over by the government and ferried close to a 100 passengers in each trip, he said. “The ferry directly from Mattancherry was both cheaper and faster than the bus to Ernakulam,” said Abu Bakar, a Jew Town resident.

Dredging work

Despite repeated entreaties to the authorities, the dredging at Mattancherry had not yet begun, said S. Padmanabha Mallya, secretary, West Kochi Passengers Association. A few MLAs and SWTD officials had met in June to discuss the issue, but there had been no progress despite passengers, including vendors who frequent the route, being inconvenienced, he said. Four boats would ply on this route till 2013 and this was abruptly reduced to three, Mr. Mallya said.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 7:00:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/shoddy-state-of-jetties-hits-boat-service-to-fort-kochi-mattancherry/article29684609.ece

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