The much awaited Ro-Ro service between Mumbai and Mandwa, in Alibaug, will start by the end of this month. The ferry has set sail from Greece and will arrive in Mumbai by February 12, according to officials
Dredging on both sides is almost complete, M Ramaswami, chief executive, Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB), told Mumbai Mirror, adding the vessel can carry up to 500 passengers and 180 cars.
Ramaswami said passengers will be charged Rs 235 per journey and the fare for cars will be between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500, depending on their size. The journey will take between 50 minutes and an hour, he said.
Introducing the RO-RO service was the brainchild of the Minister for Road Transport and Highways, and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari. He made the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) complete the infrastructure on the Mumbai side; the MMB completed the work at the other end. The infrastructure was ready more than a year ago, but the project had become mired in legal issues.
The project ran into rough weather when the awardee of the second tender approached the Bombay High Court and secured a stay on the MMB's third tender. The MMB had cancelled the second tender on the grounds that the shipping company hadn't been able to acquire a vessel for the service. As a result of the high court stay, the awardee of the third tender could not get a vessel, even as the infrastructure was readied. With Goa and Karnataka known to have Ro-Ro services, Gadkari wanted the facility in Mumbai, and he acquired land from the MbPT at Ferry Wharf to create a terminal. Both the state government and the Centre spent nearly Rs 150 crore on the terminal and the breakwater in Mandwa to make water transport possible during the monsoon season.
When the MMB floated a tender for the first time in September 2017, Maldar Dredgers and Salvagers applied and won the bid, but later put conditions, which the MMB didn't allow. The company later withdrew its bid. In June 2018, the second tender was floated, for which Providential Shipping bid, but failed to get a vessel. As a result, the MMB floated a third tender in September-October 2018 and it was awarded to Esquire Shipping. The MMB won the court case.
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