Future of Ghogha-Hajira Ro-Pax ferry service uncertain

The Ghogha-Hajira Ro-Pax ferry service, which has been a boon for public transport and has shortened the distance between entire Saurashtra and South Gujarat, is currently on hiatus, but as per insiders, there is every possibility of bringing this ferry service to a complete halt.

Public transport on road, railways and flight schemes in air get government subsidy on fuel so that such services can be made available to the general public at affordable rates.

Despite repeated representations made by the operators to the concerned ministry to provide subsidized fuel to the Ghogha-Hajira Ro-Pax ferry service, a pilot project of popular Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modi, the matter was not being heeded.

Various types of oil-diesel are used as fuel in ships, among them the price of VLFSO was Rs.40 per liter in Jul-2021 and is currently Rs.88. The price of low sulfur high speed diesel was 79 it has now become 124. On the other hand, since ferry services are used by the general public, it is necessary for the operators to keep prices affordable compared to rail-road transport. Hence the increase in fuel prices cannot be passed on to the general public, it is learned from ferry operators’ circles.

According to ferry operator circles, Voyage Symphony vessel plying between Ghogha-Hajira was launched between Ghogha-Dahej on 28th October 2018. And due to dredging issues in Dahej, this service was stopped on 23rd September 2019. Thus, the Ghogha-Dahej route was closed in just 11 months. 300 crore spent on terminal, pontoon, link span, bund, jetty, dredging at Dahej was washed away in sea water.

Voyage Symphony, built in 2015, was shut down for 21 out of 50 months due to weather, ship repairs, other factors after being brought in by ship operators.

If a draft of 7 meters is made available at Ghogha and Hazira, the new vessel brought in by the ferry operators is capable of covering the distance of 61 nautical miles from Ghogha to Hazira in just 2 hours 30 minutes. Also the new ship has more passenger and vehicle capacity.

Since the Ghogha-Dahej Ro-Pax ferry service was announced in 2012, the project has not been carried out in earnest. Officials of the project contractor, Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) are responsible for it. Experts’ reported that the Ghogha-Dahej route was not suitable for sea transport before the GMB officials were trashed, the opinion ignored and the Dahej site was chosen arbitrarily. Terminal, pontoon, linkspan, channel dredging, turning circle were constructed at Dahej at a cost of Rs 300 crore. 300 crores spent by the government for the facilities at Dahej have gone down the drain as it seems that it is not possible to operate a ship at Dahej in just 11 months. The government is still hesitant to take action against those responsible for this failure.

On the one hand, the conscientious Prime Minister of the country, Narendrabhai Modi, is making continuous efforts to give priority to water transportation in the country, it has become necessary to find and punish those who are obstructing his efforts.

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