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News  


 

Abrupt end to Indo-Lanka ferry-service?

By S. Selvakumar
The Indo-Lanka passenger ferry service, kicked off in June with much pomp and pageantry, has come to an abrupt end since November 19. Messrs Flemingo Shipping Lines of India that operated the service through Scotia Prince that had a thousand passenger capacity, has informed the Ceylon Shipping Corporation (CSC) that they had suspended the service but had not given any reason for the decision.
General Manager of Sri Lanka Shipping Corporation Sunil Obadage told The Nation they were in the process of holding further talks with the Indian Company but the latter had said that the ‘suspension’ was only temporary. When Sri Lanka pointed out there were hundreds of passengers who had bought tickets, the Indian Company had moved for refund of monies. The monies were promptly reimbursed by the Indian firm.
Obadage said though the vessel could accommodate nearly 1,000 passengers she always operated under capacity with an average of 150 passengers on each journey. “This may have been the reason for suspending the service and I don’t see any chances of the service recommencing in the near future,” Obadage lamented.
The original agreement between the Indian firm and the CSC was for both to operate two ships twice on a weekly basis. However, the CSC had difficulty in purchasing a vessel. Until such time the service was halted, attempts were made by the CSC to purchase a vessel and tenders have already been called for that purpose.
The service between Tuticorin and Colombo had many advantages for passengers since 100 kilos of baggage was allowed unlike the 20 kilos in an airline. However, according to some passengers who had already utilized this service, fare-wise it was only fractionally less than flying to a South Indian destination from Colombo. In addition, the flight took only one hour but the ship took more than a day between the destinations.
The Ceylon Shipping Corporation was only acting as a general sales agent to the Indian firm until the CSC purchased its own vessel. Scotia Prince was still berthed outside the Colombo Harbour on Friday after the last load of passengers had disembarked on previous Saturday.