Water Transport: Kinds, Advantages and Disadvantages of Water Transport
Water transport is the cheapest and the oldest mode of transport. It operates on a natural track and hence does not require huge capital investment in the construction and maintenance of its track except in case of canals. The cost of operation of water transport is also very less. It has the largest carrying capacity and is most suitable for carrying bulky goods over long distances. It has played a very significant role in bringing different parts of the world closer and is indispensable to foreign trade.
Kinds of Water Transport:
Water transport consists of:
(i) Inland water transport
Inland Water Transport:
As shown in the chart, inland water transport consists of transport by rivers, canals and lakes.
Rivers are a natural waterway which can be used as a means of transport. They are suitable for small boats as well as big barrages. River transport played a very important role prior to the development of modern means of land transport. Their importance has gradually declined on account of more reliable and cheaper transport services offered by the railways.
They are artificial waterways made for the purpose of irrigation or navigation or both. Canal transport requires a huge amount of capital investment in construction and maintenance of its track i.e., the artificial waterways. The cost of the canal transport is, therefore, higher than that of river transport. To add to it, the cost of providing water for the canals is also a very big problem of canal transport.
Lakes can be either natural like rivers or artificial like canals.
1. Low Cost:
Rivers are a natural highway which does not require any cost of construction and maintenance. Even the cost of construction and maintenance of canals is much less or they are used, not only for transport purposes but also for irrigation, etc. Moreover, the cost of operation of the inland water transport is very low. Thus, it is the cheapest mode of transport for carrying goods from one place to another.
2. Larger Capacity:
It can carry much larger quantities of heavy and bulky goods such as coal, and, timber etc.
3. Flexible Service:
It provides much more flexible service than railways and can be adjusted to individual requirements.
The risks of accidents and breakdowns, in this form of transport, are minimum as compared to any other form of transport.
Speed of Inland water transport is very slow and therefore this mode of transport is unsuitable where time is an important factor.
2. Limited Area of Operation:
It can be used only in a limited area which is served by deep canals and rivers.
3. Seasonal Character:
Rivers and canals cannot be operated for transportation throughout the year as water may freeze during winter or water level may go very much down during summer.
The inland water transport by rivers is unreliable. Sometimes the river changes its course which causes dislocation in the normal route of the trade.
5. Unsuitable for Small Business:
Inland water transport by rivers and canals is not suitable for small traders, as it takes normally a longer time to carry goods from one place to another through this form of transport.
Ocean transport is indispensable for foreign trade. It has brought the different parts of the world closer and has knitted together all the nations of the world into one big world market. It operates on a natural track, i.e., the sea and does not require any investment in the construction and maintenance of its track. It is, obviously, the cheapest mode of transport.
Ocean transport includes:
- Coastal Shipping
- Overseas Shipping
1. Coastal Shipping:
It is one of the most important means of transport for carrying goods from one part to another in a country. It is a cheaper and quicker mode of transport and is most suitable for carrying heavy, bulky and cheap traffic like coal, iron ore, etc. to distant places. But it can serve only limited areas. Earlier, coastal shipping in India was mainly in the hands of foreign shipping companies. But now from 1951 onwards, it is exclusively reserved for Indian ships.
2. Overseas Shipping:
There are three types of vessels employed in the overseas shipping:
Liners are the ships which have regular fixed routes, time and charges. They are, usually, a collection of vessels under one ownership, i.e., a fleet. They provide a uniform and regular service. Liners sail on scheduled dates and time, whether full of cargo or not.
Tramps are ships which have no fixed routes. They have no set rules or rate schedule. Usually, they do not sail till they have full cargo. They can be chartered by exporters and are ready to sail anywhere and at any time. They are not as fast in speed as liners. Tramps are more suitable to carry seasonal and bulky goods.
Tankers are the vessels which are specially designed to carry oil, petrol and such other liquids. They have a large capacity, 2 to 3 lakh tons of oil, and very shortly, we may have super tankers with a capacity of about 10 lakh tons of oil.
- It operates on a natural track as sea provides a readymade ‘road bed’ for the ships to sail. Hence, it does not require huge amount of capital investment in the construction and maintenance of its track.
- Due to the smooth surface of sea, comparatively less tractive power is required for its operation which results in a lesser cost of operation. Thus, it is the cheapest mode of transport.
- It has the largest carrying capacity as compared to any other transport.
- The risk of damage in transit of the goods is also less as compared to other modes of transport. But the goods are exposed to the ‘perils of sea’.
- It is the only suitable mode of transport for carrying heavy and bulky goods to distant places.
- It is indispensable to foreign trade.