CHENNAI: In the wake of the unprecedented economic crisis in Sri Lanka, the coastal sail vessel operators in Thoothukudi have appealed to the government to utilise the services of the ‘sail vessel,’ the traditional mode, to ship humanitarian aid cargo to the island nation from Thoothukudi port.
The appeal from sail vessel owners comes at a time when the Tamil Nadu government has come forward to offer humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka.
S Lasington Fernando, secretary, Tuticorin Coastal Mechanized Sail Vessel Owners Association, said on Thursday, the maritime trade between Colombo and Thoothukudi picked up a couple of months ago after a long break due to the pandemic.
Lasington told DT Next that during March and April this year, two vessels made three trade voyages, hauling 6,800 tonnes of essential freight to Colombo. Large quantities of essential commodities, such as rice, onion and sugar, were transported to Colombo from Thoothukudi.
The cost of transportation by sail vessels could be cheaper when compared to rates charged by container ship operators. The outward bound voyage takes an average of 18 hours to reach Colombo. Citing these factors, he sought the government to utilise the sail vessels for shipment of humanitarian aid to Lanka and such a move could also help revive the sail vessel industry.