DSS faces ire over inadequate vehicle ferries

PROTEST AT BAMBOOFLAT
Report by: 
ZEENATH BIBI
BAMBOOFLAT
4 Dec 2018

Deployment of only one vehicle ferry in the Chatham-Bambooflat route triggered massive chaos at Bambooflat on Tuesday. According to reports, hundreds of commuters resorted to a spontaneous protest here after the single ferry pressed into operation in this route could not cater to the heavy morning rush of passengers. Many college students could not avail the ferry and missed their examination while the office-goers landed up late in offices. This resulted in students and passengers resorting to protest and obstructed the operation of the ferry services. Patients heading to the GB Pant Hospital for routine checkups returned back.  On a normal day, as many as three vehicle ferries operate in this route but on Tuesday, two vehicle ferries were withdrawn and only ferry was put into operation. The deployment of insufficient vehicle ferries coupled with heavy rush of passengers left the commuters stranded for hours together, which resulted in protest. 
Later at 11.00 pm, officials from the Directorate of Shipping Services rushed to the spot to speak to the protestors. It was only after the DSS pressed two vehicle ferry, the protesters allowed the vehicle ferry to operate. 
Speaking to EOI, the Deputy Director (DSS) said after hearing about the protest by passengers, he along with a team visited Bambooflat jetty and held discussion with the protesters. On their demand, two vehicle ferries were deployed immediately to ease the rush. He expressed his sympathy for the college students who missed their examination due to insufficient ferries. He informed that besides these two vehicle ferries, one higher capacity vehicle ferry after undergoing necessary repair works will also be deployed so that in days ahead the passengers should not face such difficulties.
While construction of a bridge connecting Bambooflat and Chatham is bound to take some more years, inadequate passenger and vehicle ferry services of the Directorate of Shipping Services continue to hassle thousands of commuters in the sector.  Thousands of commuters including college students, school children, office goers, private workers and others solely depend on the boat services to take them to their destinations on a daily basis.
Despite notified passenger capacity, almost all the vehicle and passenger ferries can be found overloaded mainly during rush hours. Scenes of overloaded ferries remind commuters about the horrific Jan 26 boat tragedy, but they are forced to avail the service to attend schools and offices in time. With limited vessels deployed in this crucial sector, thousands of residents of Bambooflat and adjoining areas are forced to commute in congested ferries daily.
“Insufficient passenger and vehicle ferry services in the Chatham-Bambooflat and other sectors like Dundus Point etc has become a scourge for thousands of commuters. Overcrowding of ferry vessels have now become a routine risking thousands of precious lives. More than twenty thousand commuters from different parts of Ferragunj Tehsil avail the ferry services to attend offices, schools and other private works. Many of them on two-wheelers and four-wheelers use the vehicle ferries services to commute in this sector, while others use the passenger ones. But lack of adequate safety gears on board the vessels has become a serious cause of concern. Though the Shipping Department generates huge revenue from the sector per year, it has done little to acquire larger ferries for the sector to ease woes of commuters. Repeated demands for introduction of a larger vehicle ferry have proved futile and it has now become imperative for the administration to actively consider procuring a larger vessel for the sector for the safety of the commuters. Besides, the Shipping Department should also considering increasing the frequency of passenger and vehicle ferry services in the sector,” said some residents of Bambooflat.