Even as Kochiites jostled for pre-GST offers on Friday, authorities of Kochi corporation gave "berth" to two RO-RO vessels. But unlike city residents, who will start using whatever they bought on the GST-eve, corporation is still clueless when to start operating its new acquisitions as the jetties and other infrastructure are far from completion.
In order to avoid possible tax hassles under the GST regime, the local body signed a protocol of delivery and acceptance for the vessels Sethusagar 1 and Sethusagar II with the Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL).
The corporation rushed to take delivery of the vessels at the eleventh hour as further delay would force them to repeat the entire documentation process to suit the GST template.
Though the RO-RO vessels built at an estimated cost of Rs 7.6 crore are ready for operations, the corporation officials delayed taking delivery as they did not complete construction of jetties. The vessels would operate between Fort Kochi and Vypeen.
"When GST comes into force, the service charge levied on repair and maintenance will go up to 18% from the existing 14. 85%," a CSL official said. However, he added that that there would not be any changes in the five percent service tax imposed on ship-building.
Local body officials said the vessels would remain at the shipyard till they begin commercial operations. Kochi mayor Soumini Jain said the local body is yet to finalize the dates for launching the vessels.
Jain said prior to launch construction of the jetties have to be completed. The corporation will convene a meeting with officials from CSL and Cochin Port Trust (CPT) on Saturday.
"The CSL has built the RO-RO vessels and CPT is building the jetties. We need to get their view on some technical aspects and complete the construction of jetties. Moreover, there is a requirement to convene a public meeting and explain to the local people about technical requirements," Jain said.
On a question on whether the local body would consider entrusting the task of operating the RO-RO vessels with the Kochi Water Metro wing of the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd, the mayor said, "The local body would consider an agency which has experience and expertise in operating RO-RO vessels. These are sophisticated vessels that need to be handled by experienced and knowledgeable personnel."
Each RO-RO vessels has a length of 27 metres and a breadth of 8.25 metres. They can achieve speeds of six knots per hour. The vessels are provided with ramps on either sides and it eliminates the need for reverse parking of the vehicles on the ferry.
The diagonally placed azimuth thrusters of the vessels do away with the need for turning of the vessels at the jetty and also allows for better manoeuvrability especially during high tidal currents. The ferries are designed to accommodate 18 cars plus 50 passengers or 12 cars and four 10 tonne trucks in addition to 50 passengers.
Source: TOIPrevious Next