Kerala’s boat building industry is in the dark about the Maritime Board’s stance Ship’s crew

The tragic boat accident that occurred in Tanur, Malappuram district in May has plunged Kerala’s boat building and operating industry into a crisis.

Boat builders pointed out that the Kerala Maritime Board – the body responsible for the registration, renewal and shipyard approval of boats – has suspended all related activities, which has caused the inland waterway transport certification and licensing process to stall.

S Jeevan, Secretary of the Composite Boat Builders Association of Kerala (COBBAK), said the boat building process involves obtaining a building permit and subsequent inspections by KMB surveyors at the respective boat building yards. As soon as the boat is launched, final checks and tests are carried out on site. However, he said the whole process has come to a complete standstill.

Kerala currently has numerous registered shipyards employing a large workforce. These shipyards rely heavily on tourism and travel industry businesses. Unfortunately, the so-called embargo has put the industry, but also the self-employed who buy small tourist boats, in a precarious position. The size of the state’s boating industry is estimated at ₹350 crore and growing at a 12 percent CAGR, he said.

The 2018 floods have prompted river and lake shore residents to invest in boats for leisure, transportation and rescue purposes. Before the monsoon, there was a steady increase in boat orders. However, many boats that have been ordered are currently idle due to a lack of surveys and inspections at shipyards. That uncertainty has discouraged people from placing new boat orders, Jeevan said.

He claimed that KMB’s inaction is not only affecting the boat building industry, but also hampering government initiatives that allow boats to be used for different purposes within specific timetables.

The association called on KMB and the relevant authorities to address the problems facing the boat building and boat operating industry and ensure the resumption of the necessary inspections, renewals and licensing processes without further delay.

There was no official communication regarding the suspension of the renewal, inspection and licensing procedures. There has been no response to repeated emails and comments, Jeevan said, adding that the Houseboat Operators Association in Alappuzha has also pointed out the difficulties it is facing due to the agency’s unfavorable stance.

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