India’s first water metro funded by KfW
Communities living along the backwaters of the port city of
Kochi in Kerala state India
could soon gain better access to the mainland via
India’s first water metro
. The transport network due for completion in 2020 will open up opportunities for people living by the lagoons of India’s coastal state, where slow-moving tourist boats are still the main source of transport for more than 900km of waterways. India’s Chief Minister
Pinarayi Vijayan
called the project “a milestone in Kochi’s development”. German development bank
Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau
(KfW) has provided a loan of 85 million euros to finance the metro, and will oversee the procurement of modern vehicles needed to transport up to 100 passengers per journey. The project was approved by the German government in February 2016, deepening Germany’s commitment to Kochi as one of three future smart cities in India. The two cities joining Kochi’s development are Bhubaneswar in Odisha and Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. Managing director of Kochi Metro,
Elias George
, said: “This is the first major externally funded urban water passenger transport project ever to be implemented in India, and its beauty is that it is not just an urban transportation project, but a complete infrastructure and livelihood enhancement for people living along the Kochi backwaters.” The Kochi Water Metro will link 16 separate routes across 38 renovated docks, altogether covering around 76 kilometres along the south-west coast of India. The project also includes the reconstruction of several roads leading off from the jetties at Kochi in order to introduce safer traffic lighting and ease congestion. Kochi’s bureau for municipal development, the
Greater Cochin Development Authority
(GCDA), has won several state approvals to widen Kochi’s roads and build new urban real estate. To date, the bureau has added 75 km of road wide enough to accommodate Kochi’s growing commuter population. The GCDA recently terminated several water transport projects however after failing to receive state approval. Ranked by the
World Bank
as one of India’s 17 major industrial cities, Kochi is a business economy that relies primarily on its service sector. Businesses crucial to its economy fall under sectors such as construction, shipbuilding and transportation. Kochi’s key exports include seafood and spices, from which the city has remained a global centre for cuisine and trade since the beginning of the spice trade in
3000BC
.
By Jack Aldane
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Photo: Claude Renault - Esther Gouault