Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the “roll on, roll off” (ro-ro) ferry service in Gujarat on Sunday during his third visit to the poll-bound state this month. Roll-on, roll-off ferry service allows vehicles likes trucks, buses, cars etc to roll drive onto the ferry doing away with the need to crane-lift vehicles on the ferry. Along with this, the shorter travel distance cuts down travel time and also improves ease of travel.
Although the prime minister’s speech which worded the project as the “first of its kind project not only in India but also in South-East Asia,” the project is not the first one proposed or operational in India.
The Ministry of Shipping and the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) have planned to develop waterways and promote transport — goods and passengers–via ro-ro facilities among other modes of transport.
The Ghogha-Dahej link cut down the over 310 km distance between the two areas connected by land to just over 30 km connected by ports. The ro-ro ferry’s first phase was flagged off by PM Modi on Sunday at an event in Ghogha.
In April this year, the prime minister laid the foundation stone for a multi-modal terminal at Sahibganj in Jharkhand on the Ganga River. Among the many modes of transport, the ro-ro facility was one key part and connects to Bihar’s Manihari. Trucks and load carriers are already using the service.
In March this year, the IWAI carried out maiden berthing operation an a ro-ro terminal in Assam’s Dhubri district on Brahmaputra river (National Waterway-2). The ro-ro project connects the 29 km waterway link between Dhubri with Hatsingimari along the Meghalaya border. The ferry can transport up to 8 trucks and 200 passengers at a time. It is an alternative to the circuitous 220 km land route that was earlier the only option.
Kalughat terminal in West Bengal and Gaighat terminal in Bihar were proposed to be connected under the Jal Marg Vikas Project for creating state-of-the-art terminals at the two locations and start off ferry and ro-ro services. The Kalughat terminal’s completion will improve transportation of cargo between Kolkata and Nepal via waterway (Kalughat terminal) and it will make it cheaper in comparison to rail or road transport by 26 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively when return cargo is available. The Ministry of Shipping said last year that the overall investment would also create 50,000 jobs in Bihar.