Ever since Alappuzha native Sandra Babu heard that examinations, which had been postponed due to the COVID-19 lockdown, would resume, she had been apprehensive. The Class 11 student was not tense about the portions she had to study – rather she was anxious as there was no means of transportation from MN block, the small island where she lives, near Kainakary in Alappuzha district. But taking Sandra by surprise, the Kerala State Water Transport Department decided to run a 70-seater passenger boat just for her, so that she won’t miss her remaining Class 11 board exams.
For the past year, Sandra has been studying in SNDP Higher Secondary School at Kanjiram in Kottayam district, and has been living in her relative’s house at MN Block in Alappuzha. She had been depending on small private motorised canoes from MN Block to reach R Block, from where there is government boat service to Kanjiram – a border village in Kottayam district – to reach her school.
Though intra district government boat service which was stopped due to lockdown has resumed, the private boat service from MN Block to R Block is still shut, puting Sandra in a tough spot. But the Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD) came to her aid, and even took a non-service route to help the student write her exams, reported News18 Malayalam's Chandrakanth Viswanath first.
Speaking to TNM, Sandra says that she was overwhelmed when officials of Kerala State Water Transport Department called her and said that there will be boat service.
“The operators of the boat from R Block had asked me if there will be more exams earlier. When it was announced that the exam would resume, I called and told them. I was very apprehensive, but they told me they will arrange a boat,” says Sandra.
On May 29 and 30, KSWTD deployed the 70-seater boat, just for her. According to officials of KSWTD, after taking her to Kanjiram, the boat waited there and ferried her back once the exam got over.
Speaking to TNM, Shaji V Nair, director of KSWTD says, it was a one of a kind of incident.
“Her house was in the interiors, it was not a regular route of ours. We had to take special permission as it also required inter-district service. (At present, only intra-district transportation is allowed). It was the officials of the ferry station in R Block who contacted me and told me about the situation of the girl. We did not think about the economic loss as it was more important that the student write her exam,” says Shaji.
Sandra, who has completed her last two exams, is happy that KSWTD came to her help. But the 16-year-old is still bewildered as she had been receiving continuous calls from media persons asking about the incident.