No alternative to integrated model of transport, says Lindner
German Ambassador to India Walter J. Lindner has expressed confidence that the Kochi Water Metro project can be launched by the end of the year.
“We are very confident that the first jetty will be ready by the end of this year. And I promise that I will be back to inaugurate it,” Mr. Lindner told The Hindu in an interaction after inaugurating the Steag Centre for Smart City Technologies at the Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology here on Friday.
German Development Bank KfW had agreed to provide a loan of ₹597 crore for the ₹747-crore integrated water transport project in the Greater Kochi area. It will be financed by the Indo-German Bilateral Cooperation, under the ‘climate friendly urban mobility’ plan.
Stating that Kochi was very special in terms of its geographical location, Mr. Lindner said it had the challenge of connecting the islands to the mainland.
“The good idea is that you have this integrated project, which means one can start in the backwaters, board the boats, get your ticket, go in to the Metro Rail with the same ticket and from there you can go to the coastland. You can get in to another ferry and use e-rickshaws or buses as the last mile connectivity,” he said.
Displaying the Kochi 1 Card (the pre-paid card issued by Kochi Metro) with his name printed on it, the German Ambassador said one could travel the whole day using the single card. “It’s very less expensive. People can conveniently make use of it. It makes a lot of sense. Today, I tried it all [modes of transport] but missed the buses,” he said.
On whether the Water Metro project was running behind schedule, Mr. Lindner said it was a huge project. “There are land issues involved. It is not only the money part as different sectors are involved. Everyone working in the government knows how difficult it is to integrate the different stakeholders. Once this is done, and I think we are very close to it, things should move smoothly,” he said.
The Ambassador said there was no alternative to the integrated model of transport.
“Because otherwise you cannot deal with communication and transport in a smart city like Kochi. Too much congestion is not manageable,” he said.
Mr. Lindner said he would return to the State soon to take stock of the help rendered by German funding agencies in the reconstruction process after the devastating floods. “We have to work together and take precautions. I know the pattern of monsoon is changing in Kerala owing to climate change,” he said.
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