Ro-Ro Ferry Service Flagged Off In Gujarat

RO-RO Ferry

RO-RO Ferry

Just ahead of the Gujarat State Legislative Assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first phase of the ‘Roll-on, Roll-off (Ro Ro)’ ferry service in Gujarat between Ghogha and Dahej on Sunday, 22 October 2017. This is the first world class Ro Ro ferry service in Southeast Asia and will reduce the travel distance between these two points from 360 kilometres to merely 31 kilometres. Traditionally cars and vehicles had to travel about 8 hours to cover the distance between these two ports in Saurashtra (Bhavnagar district) and South Gujarat (Bharuch district) but with the introduction of this Ro Ro ferry service the time taken will be only about an hour. On the occasion of the inauguration, PM Modi tweeted, “Its inauguration is a landmark moment in Gujarat’s development journey”.

What is a Ro Ro ferry?

A Ro Ro ferry service is a ship like vessel that connects two or more ports and is capable of carrying cars and other heavy vehicles including trucks, rail coaches, and trailers along with passenger traffic. The cargo, usually vehicles, can be driven right into these ferry boats and can be driven off them after transportation. Similar Ro Ro services are in use in many parts of Europe and America.

Boost to Development in Gujarat

This may be a project between Ghogha and Dahej, but it is a landmark project not only for India but also for entire South East Asia. The ferry service is a first of sorts”, said the PM at the launch of the Ro Ro ferry service in Gujarat.

The Ro Ro ferry service that has been flagged off in Gujarat by the PM is capable of ferrying some 100 vehicles such as cars and trucks along with 250 passengers at the same time. The introduction of this service will not only give the development of industries in the state a huge boost but will also go a long way in reducing fuel consumption and the carbon footprint of vehicles travelling between these two ports.

This is Phase I of the project and the government plans to connect other ports through the Ro Ro ferry service. The project has been partly funded by the State Government of Gujarat and partly by the centre under the Sagarmala project. A total fund allocation of INR 614 crore has been made for the project of which INR 117 crore has been set aside for dredging work and removal of sediments from the Bay of Khambhat. The outline of the project was conceived back in 2011 by the Gujarat government along with the engineering department of the Essar Group.

The central government further plans to develop India’s ports along the country’s 7,500 kilometre long coastline – a huge boost to the India’s maritime trade with the rest of the world.

PM Draws Flak

The PM’s claim that the Ro Ro ferry service between Ghogha and Dahej is the first in the subcontinent drew much criticism. Critics claim that similar Ro Ro services are currently in use at many ports across the country and certainly in Southeast Asia. The Ghogha-Dahej service, however, may be the first to carry both cargo and passengers (in India). Critics point to Philippines another Southeast Asian country which is a pioneer of sorts in the use of Ro Ro ferry services. The country also runs international Ro Ro ferry services, news reports claim. While this may not be one of its kind, the boost it is likely to impart to the state’s economy remains undeniable.

The launch of the Ro Ro ferry services come as a feather in the cap of the BJP which is in power in Gujarat and at the centre. This is sure to be a major achievement to be highlighted by the party in the upcoming state assembly elections. The Gujarat State Legislative Assembly elections are scheduled to be held between 9 and 14 December this year.