Kochi: The Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) is set to sign a tripartite agreement with the Union government and German bank KfW to avail the Rs 741-crore loan for the Kochi water transport project by mid-March.
According to KMRL, the agreement is of much significance as the work on integrated water transport project can start immediately.
It’s is now being vetted by the state finance department.
“This will be placed before the cabinet for approval. In the wake of election notification, this will require a special permission from the Election Commission. We have started measures to secure the permission, in case it is needed. We expect to sign the agreement within a fortnight,” an official with KMRL said.
The loan will be made available at a low interest rate of less than two per cent. The loan amount will have to be paid back in 20 years, sources said. “More than 70 boats will have to be procured for the integrated water transport project. A total of 30-35 ferry stations would be developed as part of the project,” the KMRL official said. “Once the tripartite agreement is signed, we will start measures to procure boats. Tenders would be invited for appointing a consultant for the project. Until, a consultant is appointed, the Cochin Shipyard Ltd will play the role of the consultant,” the official said. Discussions are on regarding the agency that should be entrusted with the operation and maintenance of boats.
“KMRL may not be able to operate the boat service. A special purpose vehicle (SPV) will have to be floated for the purpose. Another option is to entrust an agency for operation and maintenance of the ferry service. We are yet to take a final decision in this regard,” sources said. The Rs 741-crore project is a KMRL initiative to develop a modern water transport system for the Greater Kochi region under the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA).
“Rather than a transport project, it will be one which would redefine infrastructure facilities in the islands and places surrounding the city. The development would enhance the standard of life and livelihood facilities of the people in areas which come under the project. The better connectivity to the city will also improve the lives of residents in these areas,” the official said.
Besides starting ferry services, connecting various panchayats and islands surrounding Kochi, other modes of transport would also be utilized for the project. “Providing last-mile connectivity is the key to ensuring development of remotes areas. Feeder bus services would be provided at each ferry station. Such buses would connect to Metro stations as well as other destinations,” he said.
The ferry stations will have commercial complexes to generate more revenue and to provide more facilities for passengers. Roads leading to each station will be developed and streetlights will be installed. There will be tourist information centres attached to each ferry station.