A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe flagged off a high-speed passenger ferry service between Nagapattinam and Kankesanthurai in Sri Lanka, the service was cancelled on October 15 apparently due to lack of patronage. The daily service launched by Shipping Corporation of India has also been rescheduled to thrice a week from Monday.
The craft will now be operated on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Syed Meeran, director of K P V Shaik Mohamed Rowther & Company Pvt Ltd, which is the general sales agent for shipping corporation, said that the service badly needs publicity.
“If the sales continued to be on the downside even after the coming Friday, it may be discontinued for some time since the northeast monsoon is also setting in. Considering the weather conditions, the service will commence only in January,” he said. “We will take the required steps to improve ticket sales by attracting the targeted passengers. But we need a little more publicity and support from people of both countries,” Syed Meeran added.
The service was flagged off on Saturday after it was was deferred twice citing various administrative reasons. Nargis Beham from Al Parvez Travels said Sri Lankan Airlines charges INR 8,500 to INR 15,000 to fly to Colombo from Trichy. However, passengers can fly to Colombo from Chennai for INR 5,000. “Unlike the ferry, flying time is just an hour. By adopting a dynamic fare system, airline operators can manage the cost by fixing various slabs,” she said.
B S G Musthafa, former president of Travel Club of Madurai, told TOI that the targeted passengers of this service are generally traders who use to carry luggage or cargo. “Tourists who wish to explore voyage normally expect some kind of luxury during their travel,” he said adding that not enough market study seemed to have been done before launch of the craft.