By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): The governments of Sri Lanka and India will soon launch a passenger ferry service between Kankesanthurai in Jaffna and Karaikal in India, says the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Aviation.
Discussions in this regard have been held between the Minister of Ports and Shipping Nimal Siripala de Silva and India’s Foreign Affairs Ministry recently.
It has also been decided to establish two Immigration and Emigration offices, one each in Kankesanthurai and Karaikal for this purpose, while preliminary measures have already commenced in this regard.
Minister De Silva has revealed that boats will not be provided initially by the governments of India and Sri Lanka for the ferry service, instead, boats will be provided under the tender called for by the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Under the new passenger ferry programme, a ferry will have a capacity of 150 passengers with each passenger allowed a baggage weighing 100 kilos, while the cost of one-way travel is US$ 50.
A joint commission established to strengthen bilateral connectivity has held “productive discussions” on the resumption of ferry services between India and Sri Lanka to boost regional trade and tourism and promote stronger people-to-people ties.
India-Sri Lanka Joint Committee established under MOU on Passenger Transportation by Sea held a virtual meeting last week.
“The productive discussions focused on the resumption of ferry services between the two countries connecting mutually agreed points,” the Indian High Commission here said in a statement.
Both sides agreed that the resumption of ferry services will boost regional trade and tourism and promote stronger people-to-people ties, it said.
The meeting took place ahead of Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s planned visit to India later this week.
The Joint Committee identified a number of areas for mutual cooperation for the operationalization of ferry services in the near future and desired to take further steps based on mutual understanding, the statement said.
The Joint Committee was recently reconstituted by the Governments of India and Sri Lanka as per the provisions of the bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on Passenger Transportation by Sea, signed in 2011.The ferry services were suspended in the 80’s.
The two sides were to start a boast service in April which was later delayed as India changed the port it had chosen for the service.