Kochi

Stop memo issued to boat that collided with ro-ro ferry

‘Tourist vessel violated safety norms before and after the incident’

The Kerala Maritime Board (KMB) has issued a stop memo to the double-decked tourist boat that collided with a roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) ferry operating in the Fort Kochi-Vypeen corridor on Friday afternoon.

The stop memo was issued to the vessel named Bay King on finding that it had operated in violation of safety norms, both before and after the collision. Moreover, its srank (driver) did not possess a licence issued under the Kerala Inland Vessel (KIV) Rules.

The action follows an inspection of the boat by a team of Port Department officials including Kerala Maritime Board Chairman V.J. Mathew and Chief Surveyor Ranjith. A formal hearing on the issue will be held on Tuesday.

Endangering lives

A senior Port Department official said the driver had continued to steer the boat, rather than berth at the nearest location, even after the collision near the Fort Kochi Jetty. “The vessel, which had two dozen tourists on board, suffered damage on its right side. The continuation of the trip was very risky since the damage could have worsened, or the side panels worn off, leading to water entering the vessel, endangering the lives of people on board. The vessel could also have been swept towards the sea in the event of any other damage,” the official added.

The department will continue to probe the case. The driver had experience only in steering fishing boats. Moreover, the crew members failed to provide life jackets to the tourists even after the collision.

Communication issues

The registration of the vessel too can be cancelled, depending on the outcome of the probe.

On his part, there was inadequate communication between the driver of the ro-ro vessel (whose cabin is in an elevated position) and the crew members on the deck, he said.

At fault

Quoting KIV Rules, officials of the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) said the tourist boat was duty-bound to keep out of the way of the ro-ro ferry and should have avoided crossing its path. “Despite this, the Fort Kochi Police are dilly-dallying on registering a case based on our complaint.

“They are also not giving us a copy of the FIR filed on a complaint from the boat operator. All this despite the fact that the CCTV footage clearly shows the boat entered our path. It also did not have the mandatory safety equipment on board,” they added.

SPV to be formed

Meanwhile, Mayor Soumini Jain said at the Kochi Corporation council meeting on Saturday that a temporary agreement would have to be arrived at with the KSINC till a special purpose vehicle (SPV) was formed to operate boats.

The civic body is in the process of readying the SPV in accordance with a Government Order issued in January, she said.

Clauses

Since the KSINC and the corporation had not arrived at an official agreement till date, citing differences over clauses, the corporation council will reconsider the clauses so that the KSINC can continue operations till the SPV is formed, Ms. Jain added.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 12:55:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/stop-memo-issued-to-boat-that-collided-with-ro-ro-ferry/article30892212.ece

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