The people of Kochi are doubtful whether they would get the much anticipated water metro as a New Year gift, as promised. Though the government, Kochi water metro limited and the Cochin shipyard that builds the boat reiterate that the first phase of the metro service would be commissioned in January, the project clearly moves at a slow pace. The officials have been extending the commissioning date by a month, for quite some time. It was only recently that the date was extended to January from December.
As per the promise made during the inauguration of the project, the commencement of the water metro service is already too delayed. Though the government and the KMRL desire to complete the project on time, the work is being dragged. The construction of the first boat has already begun at the Cochin shipyard. The shipyard has assured that the first boat would be handed over in December. A set of 5 boats would be handed over at intervals of every of 4 weeks. A total of 23 boats are required to kick start the first phase of the project.
If the boat is received in December, then the water metro would be commissioned in January by beginning the service in the Vytila – Infopark route. Within a few months, services would begin to the islands as well. However, the shipyard builds only the structure of the boat. All the other parts are made abroad and needs to be imported and assembled here. The contract for this hasn’t been signed yet. Meanwhile, a decision hasn’t been reach about the integrator which contains the motor, generator and battery.
Lithium titanate oxide battery (LTO) that is four times expensive and twice safer than the regular battery would be used in the water metro. The order for these should be placed before importing and installing them in the boats. The tender details regarding the interior designing of the boat too haven’t completed. It is assumed impossible to commission the project after completing all these works in just three months.
Meanwhile, KMRL claims that the construction of other infrastructure including the terminal is progressing. The contract for the intelligent transport management system is in the final stages. Meanwhile, the tender for the work boat that goes for repairing in case a service boat gets broken down too is almost done. The land acquisition for building the 22 terminals in the next phase has begun. The sludge removal at 7 out of 15 routes in the first phase would begin next month.
The water metro is intended to run services to the islands. Using the same ticket the passengers can ride both the metro train and the boat as well. So, the interiors of the metro boats would be similar to the train. The seats and other features would be made using the same materials. The seats would be arranged in two rows. The boat that has a passenger capacity of 100 has 50 seats. An additional 50 passengers could travel by standing as well. There would be a huge digital screen in front of the boat. Announcements and instructional videos and ads would be flashed on the digital screen. Besides, the air conditioned boat would have wifi connections and modern safety features as well. The water metro boats would run services in the night too.
There aren’t any specific reasons for the water metro project to get delayed anymore, as all the government approvals have been secured. The project got the environmental nod in October last year. Besides, the loan from the German Development Bank too has been availed. Moreover, there isn’t any hurdle in land acquisition. Some people have even offered their lands for building the terminals, for free. The lands from the governmental agencies have already been acquired. The remaining land acquisition jobs are progressing rapidly.