The Maldives-India cargo ferry, on Saturday, arrived in Kulhudhuffushi City on its maiden voyage.
A ceremony was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to welcome the cargo vessel 'MCP Linz' at its first port of call in Maldives.
The function was attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid, High Commissioner of India to Maldives Sunjay Sudhir, and parliamentary representatives for Kulhudhuffushi North MP Yasir Abdul Latheef and Kulhudhuffushi South MP Jamsheed Mohamed.
Speaking at the event, Minister Shahid stated that the commencement of the ferry service constituted a boost in sea-connectivity and would improve bilateral trade between Maldives and India, thereby revitalising the local economy, especially in the northern region of the country.
Shahid also described the establishment of the service as a milestone in the incumbent government's effort to fulfill its electoral pledges concerning decentralisation.
Other notable attendees of the ceremony included Kulhudhuffushi Island Council President Abdul Latheef Hassan, Commissioner General of Customs Abdulla Shareef, Controller of Immigration Mohamed Ahmed Hussain, Managing Director of Maldives State Shipping Abduallah Saeed as well as key officials from the Indian High Commission, the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, the Ministry of Economic Development and Maldives Ports Limited. In addition to the parliamentary representatives of Kulhudhuffushi, representatives from Haa Alif Atoll, Haa Dhaalu Atoll and Shaviyani Atoll also joined the function.
MCP Linz, which is operated by the Shipping Corporation of India, departed from Tuticorin port on September 21, after which it docked at Kochi on September 22. After its stop in Kulhudhuffushi, MCP Linz will make its final stop at capital city Male' on September 28 before returning 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 is 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.
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.