The governments of India and Maldives, on Monday, jointly launched the maiden voyage of the 'Cargo Ferry Service'.
The launch was inaugurated via a virtual ceremony by the Indian Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge) Shri Mansukh L. Mandaviya and Maldives' Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Aishath Nahula.
Representatives from Tuticorin and Cochin ports, as well as officials from Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the ceremony as well.
The cargo vessel 'MCP Linz', operated by the Shipping Corporation of India, departed from Tuticorin port on September 21, after which it will be received at Kochi on September 22. MCP Linz is scheduled to arrive in Kulhudhuffushi, Haa Dhaalu Atoll, on September 26 and capital city Male' on September 28. The vessel will return to India on October 1.
The vessel is capable of carrying 380 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU's) and 3,000 tonnes of general cargo. The turnaround time for the ferry service will be approximately 10 days.
The governments of Maldives and India signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish ferry and cargo services by sea on June 8, 2019, during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Maldives. The Indian Cabinet gave the green light to the service the following month.
As Maldives' fourth largest trading partner, the two nations have traded for centuries "nourished by close historical and cultural ties", said the High Commission of India.
Furthermore, the High Commission stated that the ferry connectivity to the northern port of Kulhudhuhfushi will "underpin the economic development of northern Maldives and facilitate investments in tourism and other engines of prosperity".
Male' and Kulhudhuffushi are situated approximately 708 km and 509 km away from Kochi respectively. Kulhudhuffushi and the northern Haa Dhaalu Atoll are considered untapped tourist destinations.