Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary has said that all single-engine ferries should be converted to double-engine ones with reversible gears.
He said no mechanized country boats (bhut-bhutis) will be allowed to ply on the river in the entire river system of Assam until further order.
Patowary visited the Directorate of Inland Water Transport office and conducted a review meeting on Monday.
“As per the safety norms, there must be one life jacket for each passenger in the vessel and it will be mandatory for each passenger to put on the life jacket while boarding the vessel,” said Patowary.
He further said that the Deputy Commissioners shall conduct safety audit of the ferry vessels within their respective districts.
The Minister also took stock of the World Bank funded project preparation and the reform measures initiated during the last one and a half year.
The World Bank funded project will address the sector reforms holistically, for which ‘Inros Lackner’ – the German-based consultants have submitted the inception report and the vessel design and terminal design are being readied.
The Transport Department has been working on a Regulatory Bill for the last 6 months and the ‘Assam Inland Water Transport Reorganization Act’ is ready to be placed before the Assam Legislative Assembly during the forthcoming session for approval, a statement issued from the minister’s office said.
The Act will facilitate the setting up of a separate Regulatory Authority and separate port and shipping management companies, taking into the considerations of the recommendations of the Khosla Committee Report submitted in 2013.
The Minister also directed that capacity building of IWT staff and other stakeholders must be enhanced on a war-footing.
Patowary said that adequate attention on fleet modernization was not given in the past for which vessels operating both under IWT and private operators turned old.
However, during the last two years, work for 15 steel vessels and 3 wooden vessels has been undertaken, he pointed out.
As of now, four steel vessels in Barak, one steel vessel and three wooden vessels in Majuli have already been deployed.
And the remaining 10 vessels will be completed within this financial year. Three new vessels will be introduced between Guwahati-North Guwahati shortly.
The second and third Ro-Ro service will be introduced between Majuli-Kamalabari and Guwahati-North Guwahati in the month of October and December respectively.
The Minister reiterated the fact that the Government accords highest priority to safety of the passengers and is taking all possible measures to provide safe, reliable and sustainable mode of transport.