The Centre, Assam and the World Bank on January 16th, 2020 signed a loan agreement of USD 88 million to help modernize Assam’s passenger ferry sector that runs on its rivers including the mighty Brahmaputra.
The Assam Inland Water Transport Project (AIWTP) will help Assam improve the passenger ferry infrastructure and its services and strengthen the capacity of the institutions running the inland water transport.
A Finance Ministry release read that the project will lead towards better-designed terminals and energy-efficient vessels (both new and retrofitted) making the ferry services more sustainable with least disruption.
The project will support the Government of Assam’s efforts to corporatise its own ferry activities. The Assam Shipping Company (ASC) will operate the government ferries and the Assam Ports Company (APC) will provide terminals and terminal services on a common-user basis to both public and private ferry operators.
It may be mentioned that more than 361 ferry routes cross the Brahmaputra or serve its islands, providing a crucial means of transport to thousands of commuters in both the urban and rural areas of the Brahmaputra Valley.
Apart from this, the project will also help build modern ferry terminals drawing guidance from ‘working with nature’ principles that aim to design new infrastructure or rehabilitate existing infrastructure in a way that works with natural river processes.
The terminals will have better access, lighting and signages while the new vessels will allow for individual seats and separate toilets. Moreover, a strengthened regulatory regime will ensure a reduction in overloading, adherence to time schedule and better crew standards.
Photo Credit: Liz Cleere (Representative Image)