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 less expensive as compared to other means of transport. Water transport 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.
The following are Disadvantages of water transport:
- 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. therefore the fluctuation of water volume in rivers and freezing of water during winter renders water transport less reliable.
- Unreliable: The inland water transport by rivers is unreliable. Sometimes the river changes its course which causes dislocation in the normal route of the trade.
- Unsuitable for Small Business: Inland water transport by rivers and canals is not suitable for small traders, as it takes normally a long time to carry goods from one place to another through this form of transport.
- It is a slow means of transport. as compared to other means of transport such as road transport and air transport, water transport which uses ships and boats is slower hence it is not suitable for perishable items such as vegetables and flowers.
- More chances of attack by pirates on a boat sailing through areas with unstable political situations like Somalia and some parts of Asia. in recent years there have been attacks by pirates in the Indian ocean leading to delay in transportation of goods and destruction of goods carried by cargo ships.
- Only can be used when sufficient water is available. The ship needs a lot of water to sail through therefore in case the river or water does not have enough volume of water it is difficult to operate the ship in the waters.
- In deep-sea if the boat gets into a storm, it becomes difficult to rescue. the sea is unpredictable therefore in case of a storm the ship may capsize leading to loss of cargo and death of passengers.
- In waterfalls having many drafts, water transportation does not work. Water transport is suitable for rivers and waterways which does not have waterfalls or rapids. in many countries, the rivers and waterways which might be used for water transport are full of waterfalls and rapids making water transport impossible. for example, in many parts of Africa, there are many rivers that might be used for water transport however due to the presence of waterfalls and rapids they are not.
- Special maintenance for a water tightness of the boat is required.
- The use of different sized vessels at the different position due to difference in depth and water volumes call for drainage of goods and delays in delivery of cargo