Lanka, India recommence passenger ferry services

Lanka, India recommence passenger ferry services

‘Scotia Prince’ a 1,044-capacity ferry with nine decks docked into Colombo harbour on Tuesday signalling the resumption of sea travel between the two nations, which was disrupted by insurgency.

The first ferry carrying some 200 passengers steamed into the port here to mark an official ceremony on the occasion. Officials said the ferry would initially operate twice a week with the journey taking about 10 hours each way. Ferry services operated between Rame-swaram in India to Mannar, the northeastern town, until 1983 when they came to an abrupt halt due to threats from the LTTE. ‘Scotia Prince’ arrived here after setting off from Tuticorin on Monday.

“This is the first time that the two destinations are linked by a passenger ferry service. We aim to boost trade and tourism through this service,” Deputy Minister of Ports, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, said.

Lankan officials said the 100 kg free baggage allowance would be a fillip to Indian textile merchants to do business in Colombo. The service would be bi-weekly. The Colombo-bound vessel will depart from Tuticorin on Mondays and Fridays at 6 pm and arrive in Colombo at 8 am the next day. The vessel from Colombo to Tuticorin will sail on Wednesdays and Sundays at the same timings.

The VOC Port was given a facelift with provision of various facilities, including passenger terminal, immigration and customs counters, waiting hall, VIP lounge, CCTV and baggage screening facilities.

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