What was a joy ride for many a domestic and foreign tourist will be lackluster soon? The Goa River Navigation Department (RND), plans on imposing a fee on passengers; people crossing from Panaji to Betim via the Ferry service will have to think again. The Panajim-Betim Ferry service will be free no longer.
With a view to increasing revenue, the RND has decided to impose a nominal fee of Rs.5/- per passenger and Rs.10/- per two-wheeler on this route. Earlier two-wheelers and passengers were allowed to travel free of charge.
The four-wheeler fare varies depending on the ferry routes. On smaller routes like Surla, the fare of Rs 7 per trip will be enhanced to Rs 15, while the fare on regular routes which is Rs 10 will be raised to Rs 20. Currently, the highest fare is charged on the Madkai-Cortalim route at Rs 35. It will be increased to Rs 70. (TOI Report)
Will it affect commuters?
The Panaji-Betim Ferry not only is a tourist attraction but used by locals to travel back-and-forth from Betim to Panaji, the Capital city. Saving time and money on travel that meant a lot to them.
Motorcycles, scooters, cycles and the likes were allowed to travel free of cost as well along with commuters. Only four-wheelers were charged between Rs.7/- and Rs.35/- depending on the size of the vehicle on this route.
Imposing a charge on an otherwise free service may affect small local traders who commute back-and-forth daily to make a living and those that live from hand-to-mouth. Even Senior Citizens preferred this ferry as it allowed them to travel freely.
RoRo to replace the Ferry
The Government plans on discontinuing the 3 existing age-old, traditional Ferry boats on this route and instead introducing two new RoRo ferry boats. The entire operation will be handed over to a private party on a build-and-operate basis as per RND officials.
On an average, there are about 11,000 commuters and more than 5,000 two-wheelers travelling on the Panaji-Betim ferry route daily amounting to a Revenue Generation of 1 Crore a year for the RND.