If all goes well, then come January, people in Goa will be able to travel from the port town of Vasco to the capital city of Panaji in 20 minutes flat by paying Rs 100.
With an aim to ensure an effective mode of transport by introducing quick, safe and economical passenger transport service, the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT), under the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India, had floated a tender in May this year for providing ferry services from Baina in Vasco.
Subsequently, Drishti Marine Solutions Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, was awarded the tender for the lowest fare of Rs 100 per person to ferry passengers from Baina to Panaji and vice versa.
Speaking to this daily, chairman of MPT I Jeyakumar said, “MPT has given permission to utilise a specific portion of the foreshore area at the Baina beach to operate ferry services from Baina to other locations within the state of Goa. The operating agency will construct a temporary wooden structure for facilitating boarding and de-boarding the boats.”
Captain of Ports (CoP) James Braganza said, “There was a request for using the jetties under the CoP for passenger transportation services. The required No-objection Certificate (NOC) has been granted to the MPT for transportation of passengers.”
Director of Drishti Group Manoj Agiwal said, “MPT had floated a public tender for providing ferry service from Baina to Panaji. This was the mandatory service to be provided – to Panaji in the morning and from Panaji in the evening. The tender also stipulated that 25 per cent of the seats will be categorised as economy and shall be on the rate quoted by the bidder.”
Agiwal further said, “The tender permitted the bidder to operate the passenger ferry services to other parts of Goa at any other time, subject to receipt of permission from all concerned authorities.”
Speaking about the plans of ferry services to other places in the state, Agiwal said, “We have proposed three routes. One is from Baina to Sinquerim to Panaji to Old Goa, while the second route is from Baina to Baga to Arambol and the third route is from Baina to Mobor to Palolem.”
MPT officials said the operating agency will provide a floating platform, moorings, safety equipment and other facilities to facilitate embarking and disembarking of passengers at the Baina beach. In its tender, the MPT had laid down conditions for the vessels to be used for ferrying the passengers.
Agiwal said that the trials for the proposed vessels are underway. “Speed is the important and critical factor. We propose to use hydrofoils or such vessels having speed in excess of 22 knots,” he said.
The MPT has permitted the provision of air-conditioned and non air-conditioned sections in the vessel. For the air-conditioned section, there will be no restriction on the fare the operator can charge the commuters. The ferry service will be allowed to operate only during fair weather (normally between October and April). The MPT has also demanded that the operator make arrangements for an adequate facility for the shore discharge of dirty oil, sludge and sewage.
Experts in the industry are of the opinion that the vast water bodies in the state have not been utilised to their potential and considering the huge tourist influx, waterway transport could be a potential profit-making business, considering the increase in traffic on the state’s roads.