Water Metro to adhere to December deadline: KMRL chief

‘Contract with Cochin Shipyard going ahead as scheduled’

The first ferry of Kochi’s Water Metro project will roll out in December as scheduled and will begin operating in January from the city to Kakkanad, after a month-long trial, sources in Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) have said.

KMRL Managing Director Alkesh Kumar Sharma said the contract with Cochin Shipyard was going ahead as scheduled. The resetting of the deadline from November to December was necessitated on account of the pandemic. There would be no price escalation either since the contract was to design and build twenty-three 100-seater ferries, he said.

“The progress of construction is being continuously monitored, while I convene weekly meetings to take stock of the progress of works,” said Mr. Sharma.

The contract amount remained at ₹175 crore, despite delay caused by the pandemic, sources in the agency said. The price of each 100-seater ferry as per the Water Metro’s detailed project report was estimated to be ₹4.50 crore. This has increased to ₹7.60 crore since the technical and safety specifications have been rewritten, to keep up with the times. The hull material was changed from steel to aluminium and a decision was taken to have electric, battery-driven ferries. Similarly, an advanced air conditioning system has been chosen. Moreover, safety and security aspects have been rewritten, based on inputs from experts and KfW, the German agency which is providing soft loan. Night navigation facilities are another addition. “The cost increased due to our decision to further customise the boats,” they added.

Responding to concerns that dependence on components from abroad, especially Europe, might cause delay in sourcing spare parts, they said that Water Metro would have a sound inventory management system, just like Kochi Metro. Adequate quantity of spares would be stocked, foreseeing possible delay in delivering spares, the sources added.

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