Herald: Ferries move with the tide, but their infra hasn’t moved with the times

Ferries move with the tide, but their infra hasn’t moved with the times

30 Jun 2019 05:24am IST

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VIBHA VERMA

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30 Jun 2019 05:24am IST

Report by
VIBHA VERMA

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It is a great view for postcards but the overall scenario on ferry boats is not as great. While thousands of locals use these services on a daily basis, the boats are crying for attention from the authorities. To Goans, if the infrastructure and facilities are improved, it will provide a smoother and safer journey for all those who take this route across choppy waters, especially during the monsoon season. VIBHA VERMA shares her first-experience on these ferry boats, which have been used for decades by generations of Goans

On a rainy day, as I decided to take a ferry boat from Ribandar wharf to Chorao, the first and obvious difficulty I encountered, along with fellow passengers, was how to squeeze in my bike through the serpentine queue of vehicles that was eager to get into the floating vessel.

Thousands of travellers living in the areas of Chorao, Mayem, Haturli, Bicholim and other areas take this route to reach to the capital city from passing through the picturesque Island.

As per River Navigation department, Chorao to Ribandar is one of the longest and busiest routes for ferry service, prompting them to add two more vessels in addition to three already existing.

As I managed to get my bike in and park it, the first instruction was not to use the side-stand but to get it on main-stand. “This will allow others to park their vehicles. There are many who doesn’t listen and end up arguing for no reason,” said an elderly person, who introduced himself as Savio Pereira, living on Chorao Island.

Pereira has been witness to the growing importance of the ferry service for the people living on the island. “We oppose construction of a bridge as it will steal away our peace. The land sharks are always eyeing our island and connecting Chorao with a bridge will open flood gates,” he fears.

As the ferry took turn and started wading towards Chorao, the rains began lashing more furiously and everyone took shelter below the cabin of the master.

Aren’t you afraid of ferry boat drifting away in monsoons? I asked Pereira. “It is very rarely that it has happened but passengers are always safe. Other ferry will rescue you to the shore and later you can collect your vehicles,” he said adding “it is much better than fearing an accident on the road.”

The construction of Gaudalim and Amona Bridges were supposed to reduce load on this ferry service. But that couldn’t happen.  “Who will travel all the way that side? This is easier. You just have to park your bike and then you are at the other side. It saves fuel too,” said another youth who was with Pereira.

Interestingly, Chorao has been provided with new ferry boats with more space for the passengers than the old ones on the other routes. 

The ferry services are free for two-wheelers and passengers while four-wheelers are charged Rs 10 each as a token amount.

As we reached the other end in an approximate 10-15 minutes, the instructions were clear for everyone – “Mind your steps as the wharf may be slippery due to rains”.

 With perfection, meticulous driving and discipline, everyone got off the vessel, ending the journey that one can enjoy only in Goa. 

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