Beypore Dubai passenger ship on maps in Kerala. NRIs welcome step, experts doubt

Will Kerala get a direct passenger ship connection to Dubai? The proposal put forward by Ports Minister Ahammed Devarkovil to launch a shipping service from Beypore to Dubai has sparked enthusiasm among thousands of Keralites working as laborers in GCC countries. However, experts from the shipping industry have expressed doubts about the feasibility of the project due to cost factors, transit times and lack of infrastructure facilities.

“Thousands of Keralites work in the GCC countries and cannot visit their relatives even after ten years because of exorbitant air fares. During festivals and summer holidays, air fares soar from 30,000 to 40,000 rupees, making it unaffordable for low-income earners working in the GCC countries to travel home. The minister had received complaints from workers in the Gulf States about inflated air fares, prompting us to consider an alternative,” said an official in the minister’s office.

The state government had budgeted 15 million rupees to study the possibility of introducing a passenger ship service to the Gulf region. “The plan is to have one service a month. The Chairman of the Kerala Maritime Board, NS Pillai, has been tasked with examining the possibility of starting the service at a price that workers can afford.

The board will invite expressions of interest and hold discussions with shipping service providers. According to our estimation, the ship can reach Beypore in three and a half days. While flight operators only allow 30 kilograms per passenger, ships can offer more baggage,” the official said.

However, experts in the field of shipping services claimed that the project is not feasible. “The distance from Beypore to Dubai is 1,879 nautical miles and it takes a cruise ship at least five days to reach the destination. A worker in Dubai who comes to Kerala for a month’s holiday cannot afford to be away for ten days. The ship, which sails to Lakshadweep with a grant from the Union government, is charging 4,500 rupees for 189 nautical miles. So how much will the ship charge for 1,879 nautical miles?” asked S. Mahadevan, CEO of SS Maritime Shipping Company.

The voyage duration is five days when the ship is traveling at 20 knots per hour. The ship must provide food and accommodation for the passengers. Boarding and disembarking as well as luggage transport will be time consuming. In addition, the ship has to hire three employees for every ten passengers. If a ship is chartered with a passenger capacity of 500 people, it needs a draft of 7 meters in Beypore. However, the draft in Beypore port is only 4 meters,” he said.

According to Mahadevan, the charter ship costs US$40,000 per day and the fuel consumption is 150 tons per day. In order to make the service viable, the shipping company must charge 70,000 rupees per person. The flight fee will range from 10,000 to 15,000 rupees in low season and will increase to a maximum of 40,000 rupees in peak season. “If a passenger who travels by plane can reach his home within 6 hours, then he will choose the shipping service,” he asked. Source: CUT

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