Panaji: For the past 10 days, a lone ferry has been plying the Panaji-Betim route and theriver navigation department has attributed the reason to a severe manpower crunch. Annoyed commuters told TOI that as a result they have been left withno option other than travelling the longer route via the bridge, which moreoften than not faces congestion problems. “On working days, this is a problem.
People opt for a ferry because it saves time. Ironically, taking the Panaji-Betim ferry is delaying the commute instead of making it faster,” Pooja Shirodkar, from Britona, said.
On an average, there are about 11,000 commuters and more than 5,000 two-wheelers travelling on the Panaji-Betim ferry route every day, which drops drastically only on Sundays. When the problem was brought to the attention of the crew operating the ferry, they said they were helpless about the ongoing situation.
“We have to bear the brunt of the public. The river navigation department (RND) is aware of the problem, but they still haven’t added another ferry to this route. Over the past ten days we have been managing with only one ferry on this route,” said a crew member. RND sources said that due to acute shortage of manpower managing operations has becomes difficult.
“There are 40 vacant posts, that of 32 sailors and eight coxswains. Moreover, in the last three months, around ten people have retired. Therefore, we have ferry boats, but the manpower to operate them is not there,” an official said.
A crew member said that as a result of the staff shortage, on certain days there is no inspector to manoeuvre vehicles inside the ferry, which means there is uneven occupancy of vehicles. Stating that this results in heightened tension among commuters, especially during peak hours, another crew member said, “Many times we have to get down and ask people to adjust their vehicles to make room for others. Thus, further delaying the ferry.”
A Betim resident, Deepa Kasar highlighted the problem of having to wait for long in the heat for the sole ferry. [TOI]