Kerala to get a Coastal shipping route soon
The meandering waterways in the form of lakes, backwaters and rivers in Kerala puts it in the league of countries like the Netherlands, Denmark and Greece, where coastal shipping plays an important role in easing the traffic bottlenecks. With the proposed coastal shipping route that will be completed in 2012, Kerala will be making the best use of its long coast line like these European countries. In the initial stage, this channel will be used to ferry containers from Vallarpadam Container Transshipment Terminal, which will take off a substantial part of heavy traffic from the roads leading to Kochi.
Various shipping companies and industrial representatives have evinced keen interest in this project, which will be of immense benefit to the cashew industry in Kollam, the rubber units in Kottayam and Pathanamthitta and especially the construction industry. Coastal shipping has become the need of the hour as road transport network has proved insufficient in handling the smooth slow of traffic considering the exponential growth in the goods movement in recent times.
The Great Sea Shipping Pvt Ltd based in Cochin has confirmed its plans to launch river-sea vessels on both fixed schedules and charter basis to ensure container transportation services. The company plans to start its operations with two vessels each with a cargo capacity of 52 containers connecting Kollam port and Vallarpadam terminal, by April 2012.
The coastal shipping route will infuse a fresh lease of life to the limping cashew and coir industry. It is estimated that over 10,000 containers of cashew kernels are transported from Kollam for exports and around 35,000 containers of imported raw cashew is brought back to Kollam by road and the exporters have to shell out an exorbitant sum on transportation charges. However , once the coastal route gets ready, the transportation charges can be brought down by over 40 per cent of what it currently costs by road. In the second phase of the project, the non-coastal pockets will be integrated with the minor and major ports in the state, that would make a comprehensive network of inland waterways, rivers and backwater routes, which will be of tremendous use for the rubber industry mainly centred around Kottayam and Pathanamthitta areas.