Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), the state's port regulator, is aiming to link Ro-Ro ferry service network in Gulf of Khambhat and Gulf of Kutch to Mumbai and even extend up to southern coastal states up to Kerala.
"In phase-II the service will be extended to Mumbai and later on to Kochi," said a senior official close to the development.
GMB aims to have RO-RO terminals across Ghogha, Dahej, Hazira, Pipavav, Porbandar, Okha, Mundra, Suvali and Mumbai, sources said.
This is as part of the 'Golden Goals' GMB has set for the state's golden jubilee celebration year in 2010.
RO-RO ships are vessels designed to carry wheeled cargo and passengers (car borne and direct). The concept of commercial Ro-Ro operation began from Europe in 1950. Presently Ro-Ro ferry services operate in European countries like Netherlands, France, Belgium, UK and is a popular mode of transportation in South-East Asia and China.
The first phase which will be completed in 2011 will reduce travel time from Ghogha to Dahej by 8.5 hours.
The distance from Dahej to Ghogha by road is 380 kms and the travel time is 10 hours whereas the distance by ferry service that is 21 nautical miles and travel time is about 1.5 hours.
In case of Mumbai which is 672 kms away from Ghogha by road and takes about 26 hours to travel, the ferry service would take only 16 hours.
Passenger vehicles accounted for 2917 and cargo vehicles accounted for 2332 trips per day as per survey by GMB in 2008 while movement of passengers across the Gulf of Khambhat accounted for 19800 per day where the first phase is being planned.
While the terminal will be set up by GMB, it will invite prospective private ferry operators for ferry operation by EoI (Expression of Interest) between the terminals. GMB will issue license for ferry vessel and subsequently collect charges for the usage of the facilities.
The maritime regulator is aiming to rope in a operator having combination of cargo cum passenger Ro/Ro vessel with powerful engines.
"A vessel of minimum capacity of 60-80 trucks, and minimum 500 passengers is desirable. However pure cargo or pure passenger ferries are free to operate," an official said.