Kochi: Soon you could hire speed boats to sail through the serene backwaters of the state just by downloading a booking app powered by multinational taxi aggregator Uber.
The State Water Transport Department (SWTD) is set to roll out two water taxis in Ernakulam and Alappuzha by October and plans to operate the same on the lines of app-based taxi-hailing services.
“Currently construction of two water taxis is nearing completion at a private boatyard in Aroor. The work of the hull of the vessels is over. The outboard diesel engines to be used in the boats are being imported from ‘Oxe’ company in Sweden, and the same will be integrated by next week,” said Shaji V. Nair, SWTD director.
“We’re going to hold talks with Uber Technologies Inc to operate it as an app-based booking service. If successful, this will help customers, especially tourists, avail both cab and boat services at one go on the transport hailing app. We’ll be launching two more water taxis by the year-end,” the official said.
Upon launching, water taxis will be the fastest to be operated by the SWTD at 18 knots speed (33 km/hour). Kochi-based Navgathi Marine Design and Constructions built the vessels at Rs 1.60 crore, which includes annual maintenance for five years.
“The IRS-class catamaran-type fibreglass vessels can accommodate ten passengers. This is the first venture where out-board diesel engines are being used. We’re setting up solar panels on the 8.5 m/ 3.5m vessels to generate power for lighting. Two boats will be delivered to the SWTD next month and another couple of vessels two months later,” said Sandith Thandasherry, CEO.