Water Transport? Advantages and Limitations?



Introduction: -Water transport refers to movement of goods and passengers on waterways by using various means like boats, steamers, launches, ships, etc. with the help of these means goods and passengers are carried to different places, both within as well as outside the country. Within the country, rivers and canals facilitate the movement of boats, launches, etc. since the goods and passengers move inside the country, this type of transport is called inland water transport.

When the different means of transport are used to carry goods and passengers on the sea route it is termed as ocean transport.

India has an extensive network of inland waterways in the form of rivers, canals, backwaters, and creeks. Freight transport by waterways is highly underutilized in India compared to other larger countries. Cargo is transported in an organized manner is confined (restricted) to a few waterways in Goa, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala. The Inland Water Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India. The following waterways have been declared as National Waterways:

1.       Allahabad-Haldia Ganges-Bhagirathi-Hooghly River.
2.       Saidiya-Dhubri Brahmaputra River.
3.        Kollam –Kottapuram Champakara and Udyogmandal canals. Etc.

Advantages of Water Transport: -Water transport has the following advantages

1.       It is relatively economical mode of transport for bulky and heavy goods.

2.       It is a safe mode of transport with respect to occurrence of accidents.

3.       The cost of maintaining and constructing routes is very low as most of them are naturally made.

4.       It promotes international trade.

5.       It protects the goods from sun, rain, wind, dust, etc. as goods are mostly carried in containers, tankers, etc.

Limitation of Water Transport: -Water transport has the following limitations.

1.       The depth and navigability of rivers and canals vary and thus, affect operations of different transport vessels.

2.       It is a slow moving mode of transport and therefore not suitable for transport of perishable goods.

3.       It is adversely affected by weather conditions.

4.       Sea transport requires large investment on ship and their maintenance.


5.       It has high maintenance costs for ship and takers as it requires constant repairs and painting of ships.