Assam to corporatise ferry activities
The World Bank has signed a loan agreement of US$88 million to help modernize Assam’s passenger ferry sector that runs on its rivers including the mighty Brahmaputra.
The US$88 million loan is from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) with a final maturity of 14.5 years including a grace period of five years.
The agreement was signed in Delhi with the Government of India and State Government of Assam.
A majority of Assam’s more than 361 ferry routes cross the Brahmaputra or serve its islands, providing a crucial means of transport to thousands of commuters in both the urban and rural areas of the Brahmaputra Valley.
The Assam Inland Water Transport Project (AIWTP) will help Assam improve the passenger ferry infrastructure and its services and strengthen the capacity of the institutions running the inland water transport.
Technically better designed terminals and energy-efficient vessels, both new and retrofitted, will make the ferry services more sustainable with least disruption to nature.
India’s large network of inland waterways can play a significant role in the country’s economy, said Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs.
Its fuel efficiency contributes to lower operating costs and reduces environmental impact, he said after signing the loan agreement. Junaid Kamal Ahmad, World Bank’s Country Director (India), signed the loan for the bank.
The Assam Inland Water Transport Project will help develop a modern, efficient and safe river transport system for the large volume of passengers and cargo carried by the vessels.
The Government of Assam has taken on the challenge of modernizing the ferries sector which, though vital to the state, remains largely informal.
With World Bank support, the government is creating an institutional framework that will mainstream Inland Waterways as a mode of transport that is both attractive and well-suited to a wide cross-section of people living in the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam.
The project will support the Government of Assam’s efforts to corporatise its own ferry activities.
The Assam Shipping Company (ASC) will operate the government ferries and the Assam Ports Company (APC) will provide terminals and terminal services on a common-user basis to both public and private ferry operators. fiinews.com