Kochi, the bustling commercial port city of Kerala is witnessing a massive infrastructural and transportational facelift with enormous investment and technological upgrade. The inland water transport system which once served as the backbone of Kochi connecting its Islands and eyots, faced a severe decline in the past decade as people started depending more on land transportation facilities. The increase in the number of private vehicles on road demanded a return back to water transport as it is more energy and cost efficient. The Kochi Water Metro Project is introduced as an alternative public transport system to reduce the traffic congestion in the city with minimal pollution, providing the population along the city’s shores easy access to the commercial centres.
The Project aims at developing 15 identified water routes that connect 10 islands benefitting over 1,00,000 people by improving their livelihoods. This socially inclusive water transport system is expected to cover a total span of 78 km with a fleet of 78 fast, electrically propelled hybrid ferries plying to 38 jetties. Specially designed environment-friendly and energy-efficient boats equipped with advanced technology will be commissioned for the project. The boat services will start from major jetties between every 10 to 20 minutes; navigational buoys and night navigational assistance will also be ensured. The terminals are designed to have state-of-the-art facilities including automated fare collection and turnstile system for passenger counting. Pontoons(floating jetties) that adapt during high tide and low tide are built to facilitate easy boarding and deboarding for physically challenged personals.
In addition to the ferry services, the project integrates the waterway system with the city’s other public transport system and also intends the development of areas around the waterways through commercial property development along with tourism initiatives. As the project aims to be environment friendly, the management of waterweed and floating waste will also be taken care of.
The construction activities of the water metro under the supervision of KMRL (Kochi Metro Rail Limited) is progressing at a fast pace and the project is expected to be completed very soon. Almost 50 per cent of piling works of the high court boat jetty have been completed along with the construction of floating pontoons and other civil constructions. “Construction work on terminals at Vyttila and Kakkanad is in the final stage. Work is also progressing at Eloor, Cheranalloor, South Chittoor, Bolgatty, High Court, Vypeen, Mulavukad North, Paliyamthuruth and Kadamakkudy. Cochin Shipyard is expected to deliver the first boat soon,” a KMRL spokesperson said.
With the construction of the jetties at Kakkanad and Vyttila entering the final stage, the first ferry service under the water metro project is expected to be kick-started in this route in the upcoming months. The Cochin Shipyard has been delegated with the manufacturing of the specially designed ferries with different passenger capacities for the project. The water metro project is assumed to be completed within an expenditure limit of Rs.747 crore, excluding the land cost. Once the water metro project is completed, Kochi will become the first city in the country to have an integrated road, metro rail and water transport system under one roof.