Mumbai: Versova-Madh ferry resumes with a rider

Updated: Jul 16, 2020, 08:09 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

It will operate only for essential services staff and ply for specific hours every day; but ticket price stays the same

Passengers maintain distance as they wait in queue to board the ferry on Wednesday
Passengers maintain distance as they wait in queue to board the ferry on Wednesday

The ferry service between Versova and Madh Island which was shut for the past three months due to the pandemic, resumed on Tuesday, but with a rider. It will now ply for few specific hours in the morning and evening, and the only passengers allowed to avail of it are people working in the essential services sector such as government employees, doctors, nurses, BEST drivers, etc.

'Only convenient mode'
Speaking to mid-day, 45-year-old Ajay Saple, manager of the Vesave Macchimar Sahakari Society Ltd, which is in charge of the ferry service, said that they had resumed services after receiving instructions from the Maritime Board earlier this week. "There are a lot of people who need to travel from Madh Island to Mumbai city. Most of these people work as doctors and nurses at hospitals like Kokilaben and Cooper, and then have to travel back all the way to Madh Island where they live. The ferry is the only convenient and economical mode of transport for them. Others work in the BMC or are BEST drivers. These people have to travel sometimes on an emergency basis. We are operating only for such people who work in the essential services sector and not for other citizens."

A board announcing timings and passenger restrictions of the ferry
A board announcing timings and passenger restrictions of the ferry

Saple explained that when the lockdown first began in March, they were given instructions by the Maritime Board to suspend all ferry services. "We received an official communication last month from the Board, allowing us to resume services for approximately 10 to 12 days…it said that the services should be allowed only to those who are essential services sector workers. However, once the COVID-19 patient count went up drastically in areas like Madh and Malad, we were told to cease operating the ferry."

Rajen Chandi, committee member of the Vesave Macchimar Sahakari Society Ltd, said that safety and security precautions have been taken by their staff workers at the points where passengers board and alight the ferries.

Limited passengers for safety
"We have a total of 60-70 people who work as staff in shifts," he said. "The workers have been given masks, face shields, and hand gloves, and ensure that people maintain social distancing while queuing up for the ferry as well as once when they are aboard the boat. Earlier, before lockdown, the maximum number of people that we were allowed to ferry at a single time were 60, but that has now been reduced to 25 because we have to maintain social distancing. However, the ticket
price remains the same (R5 one way). The ferry service will be open from 7-11 AM and 4-7 PM every day," he added.

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