The Made in Goa touch to the Ro-Ro ferry service

Vasco based Mandovi Drydocks provided the Goan connect to the new Ro-Ro ferry service launched by the Prime Minister recently, discovers Shoma Patnaik

India’s first, world class Ro-Ro ferry service in Gujarat, launched recently by the Prime Minister was a hyped up event. But little do people know of the Made in Goa connect to it.

Vasco based, Mandovi Drydocks, added a local flavor to the launch affair by providing a vessel built in Goa for the project. The company built the passenger vessel which is being used in Phase-1 of the service that was inaugurated by the Prime Minister.

The Ro-Ro vessel is yet to arrive in India and it is likely to be imported. But in the meantime the passenger service was launched as phase 1 of the Rs 600 crore Ro-Ro project. Altogether two passenger vessels have commenced plying in the first phase of which one is built by Mandovi Drydocks.

Speaking about the achievement, Atreya Sawant, director, Mandovi Drydocks, says that the vessel was actually built for a client who later deployed it in the government’s Ro-Ro mission. He adds that, the company is open to building similar vessels in future.

One of Goa’s oldest ship building companies, Mandovi Drydocks was primarily a builder of barges. Mining closure in 2012 affected the company badly. But since then it turned to other avenues to keep itself afloat. The approach appears to have paid off as the company is reportedly in calm waters after going through rough times.

“The mining closure in 2012 was an advantage to us in a way. The closure affected us badly but gave us an opportunity to look at new areas which in turn helped us make better products,” says Sawant.

He explains that, the company started looked outside Goa for market. It built vessels for the east coast of India and commenced building other sailing vessels. “Post mining closure we built several vessels for customers based in Kolkata,” says Sawant. In fact, the company also built the biggest barge among Goan companies- a 5,000 DWT vessel for plying in waters around Kolkata during the mining doldrums period.

The company’s future plans are to continue with new products. It is focusing on aluminum- hull vessels of which there are very ship builders in India. Plans are also to venture in naval support vessels such as tugs and fuel barges.

The Indian shipping industry remains in the throes of recession and ship builders are facing the backlash of it. The silver lining in this situation is the development of waterways for coastal transport that can result in orders for smaller passenger vessels.

“There is still lot of work needed to be done by the central government in solving basic issues for waterways to take off,” reveals Sawant.