A passenger ship service between the UAE and the southern Indian state of Kerala could be a reality soon, offering Indian expats a convenient and cost-effective mode of travel. With tickets likely to cost around Dh442, the service could help Indian expats reach Kerala in roughly three days, according to YA Rahim, the President of the Indian Association Sharjah.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Rahim said, “The idea is to get the service up and running before school break in December. We want to make sure that Indian expats in the UAE can travel to their hometown without paying exorbitant airline charges.”
According to him, delegates of the Kerala government will meet India’s central government ministers next week about the project. “All we need now is the approval from the Central government,” said Rahim. “The delegation will meet on September 24. I don’t see why there should be any objection to the project. If we get the approval, we can get the service trial run started by November.”
This is not the first time that Keralites have been calling for a passenger ship service. However, previous efforts were not fruitful due to various reasons. Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming project
What will the ticket prices be?
The ticket prices on the passenger ship service will range between Dh442 (Rs10,000) and Dh663 (Rs15,000), depending on the travel time. During peak travel time, the prices will be on the higher end of the range.
What are the key features?
The passenger ship will take three days to complete the trip between UAE and India. It can carry up to 1,250 passengers at one time. Passengers can take up to 200kg of luggage during this trip. According to the planners, there will be a wide variety of food items as well as entertainment on board for the travellers.
Where will it sail to?
The ship is currently scheduled to sail to two destinations- Kochi and Beypore. One of the most popular cities in Kerala, Kochi, is one of the largest ports in India. Beypore is a port located in Kozhikode on the southwestern coast of India. According to Rahim, there is a third location in the pipeline. “We are planning to start a route to Vizhinjam as well,” he revealed. The first mega transhipment container terminal in India, the Vizhinjam port, will be the largest container port of Kerala once completed in December 2024.
Who is spearheading this project?
This ambitious project is being spearheaded by Sharjah Indian association in partnership with a private company, Ananthapuri Shipping and Logistics Private Limited, with the support of the government of Kerala and the Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NORKA)- a department of the Kerala government to address the issues of non-resident Keralites.
How likely is the project to materialise?
In May this year, Kerala’s port minister, Ahammad Devarkovil, accused airline companies of taking advantage of non-resident Keralites who want to travel during the vacation season. “Many Malayalis have to set aside a huge amount of their hard-earned money to travel,” he had said when inaugurating a high-level meeting jointly convened by the Kerala Maritime Board (KMB) and Malabar Development Council (MDC) in Kerala’s capital of Thiruvananthapuram to discuss the passenger ship service project.
With such major players lending their support to the project, it is only a matter of time before the passenger ship becomes a reality, says Rahim.
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