The Government of India, the Government
of Assam and the World Bank signed a loan agreement of 88 million US Dollars
here on January 16th to help modernize Assam’s passenger ferry sector that runs
on its rivers including the mighty Brahmaputra.
A majority of
Assam’s more than 361 ferry routes cross the Brahmaputra or serve its islands,
providing a crucial means of transport to thousands of commuters in both the
urban and rural areas of the Brahmaputra Valley.
to improve the passenger ferry infrastructure of Assam
The Assam Inland
Water Transport Project (AIWTP) will help Assam improve the passenger ferry
infrastructure and its services and strengthen the capacity of the institutions
running the inland water transport. Technically better designed terminals and
energy-efficient vessels (both new and retrofitted) will make the ferry
services more sustainable with least disruption to nature.
Mr Sameer Kumar
Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of
Finance, said that India’s large network of inland waterways can play a
significant role in the country's economy. Its fuel efficiency contributes to
lower operating costs and reduces environmental impact. He further said that in
Assam, the rivers are a vital transport asset for its people. The Assam Inland
Water Transport Project will help develop a modern, efficient and safe river
transport system for the large volume of passengers and cargo carried by the
The loan agreement
was signed by Mr. Khare, on behalf of Government of India and Mr Junaid Kamal
Ahmad, Country Director (India), World Bank on behalf of the World Bank.
Project Agreement was signed by Mr Adil Rashid, Commissioner (Assam Transport)
and State Project Director on behalf of Government of Assam and Mr Kamal Ahmad
on behalf of the World Bank.
has the largest network of navigable waterways in India
Mr Kamal Ahmad said
that Assam has the largest network of navigable waterways in India. The
Government of Assam has taken on the challenge of modernizing the ferries
sector which, though vital to the state, remains largely informal. He further
said that with World Bank support, the government is creating an institutional
framework that will mainstream Inland Waterways as a mode of transport that is
both attractive and well-suited to a wide cross-section of people living in the
Brahmaputra Valley of Assam.
The project will
support the Government of Assam’s efforts to corporatize its own ferry
activities. The Assam Shipping Company (ASC) will operate the government
ferries and the Assam Ports Company (APC) will provide terminals and terminal
services on a common-user basis to both public and private ferry operators.
Water Transport is also a more sustainable mode of transport with low-carbon
and low-cost options
Transport is also a more sustainable mode of transport. It provides low-carbon
and low-cost options when compared to the cost of constructing and maintaining
flood-resilient roads and bridges across the long stretches of the Brahmaputra
Mr Atul Agarwal,
Senior Transport Specialist and Mr Ninan Oommen Biju, Senior Port Specialist
and World Bank’s Task Team Leaders for the project said that Assam’s ferry
services are integral to the lives of the people living in the Brahmaputra
valley of Assam, providing them with connectivity, mobility, and livelihoods,
adding, that with better navigation aids, appropriate safety gear and more
suitable marine engines, the ferry services are expected to get more reliable
The project will
also help build modern ferry terminals. In doing so, the project will draw
guidance from ‘working with nature’ principles that aim to design new
infrastructure or rehabilitate existing infrastructure in a way that works with
natural river processes.
a quarter of all ferry passengers in the state are women and girls
Today, a quarter of
all ferry passengers in the state are women and girls. The ferry terminals have
few facilities, with limited seating (if any), or toilets or drinking water and
most waiting areas are mostly overcrowded. Traveling on the vessels can be
uncomfortable and difficult, particularly for women, children, older people,
and for the differently-abled. The project will improve facilities for people
using the ferry services and give special attention to the safety and security
of women and girls.
The terminals will
have better access, lighting and signages while the new vessels will allow for
individual seats, and separate toilets. Moreover, a strengthened regulatory
regime will ensure reduction in overloading, adherence to time schedule and
better crew standards.
of 88 million US Dollars with final maturity of 14.5 years including a grace
period of five years
Loan of 88 million
US Dollars from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
(IBRD) has a final maturity of 14.5 years including a grace period of five