Onlanka News – By Janaka Alahapperuma
(Pix By: Sudath Silva)
A very significant Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Sri Lanka and India on passenger transportation by Sea at Temple Trees on 07 January. The Secretary to the Ministry of Ports and Highways Mrs. Sujatha Cooray and the High Commissioner of India Ashok K. Kantha signed the MOU on behalf of the governments of Sri Lanka and India respectively in the presence of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The MOU will allow ferry services to commence between the two countries, according to the statement issued by the President Media Unit. The Colombo- Tuticorin (Thuththikudi) service will commence immediately where necessary infrastructure is already in place. Talaimannar- Rameswaram service will commence later once the required infrastructure is put in place on both sides. IRCON, an Indian company has already commenced work to restore the damaged pier in Talaimannar.
Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Deputy Minister said that the establishment of the ferry service is a fulfillment of a decision taken by the SAARC Transport committee. Resumption of these services signals an important step in the restoration of the traditional links between the two countries, the Indian High Commission said.
Sri Lanka will provide two ferries for this service initially. Each ferry could accommodate 500 passengers and each person will be allowed to carry a baggage of 100kg. The cost of the ticket will be 30 percent less than an air ticket and the journey will take 7-9 hours.
Deputy Minister of Ports and Highways, other officials of the Ministry, Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and Deputy High Commissioner of India were also present at the event.