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RTL Ferry services to be introduced in Noonu, Raa, Baa atolls

MTCC has been awarded the contract to introduce RTL Ferry services in Noonu, Raa and Baa Atolls.

Mariyath Mohamed
15 April 2024, MVT 20:00
Transport Minister Ameen and MTCC CEO Ziyad signs the agreement today.-- Photo: Nishan Ali
Mariyath Mohamed
15 April 2024, MVT 20:00

Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) has been awarded the contract to introduce RTL Ferry services in Noonu, Raa and Baa Atolls.

The RTL Ferry service, initially commenced during the previous administration and being broadened by the incumbent government, is an endeavour aiming to connect the entire nation through a robust high speed ferry system.

The agreement was signed today by Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Mohamed Ameen and MTCC CEO Abdulla Ziyad at a ceremony held at Meeruma Event Hall.

Under this agreement, RTL Ferry services will be commenced in all three of these atolls within the year.

Transport Minister Ameen speaking at today's ceremony.-- Photo: Nishan Ali / Mihaaru

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Ameen stated that, according to the President's pledges, he is continuing the projects commenced during earlier administrations, and the RTL Ferry service is among such projects.

However, he said, changes will be brought to the service to align it with the people's requirements.

MTCC is contracted with the design, building and operation of the RTL Ferry service. Minister Ameen said that a number of changes are necessary to be brought to ensure that the services are sustainable.

"We have noticed that MTCC faces some challenges in providing this service in a continued, sustainable manner. One of the things we noted is that the routes are not to the best liking of citizens," the Minister said.

Ameen said that in order to revise the routes as per the people's wishes, extra funding and speedboats are necessary. He assured that changes will be brought to the routes in the next 90 days.

Although it would be ideal to transfer the ferry terminals in the islands to be under the administration of councils, Ameen pointed out that MTCC had spent large amounts on the establishment of these terminals. Therefore, Ameen said, ways are being sought for MTCC to recover those amounts and then the terminals to be handed over to councils.

Agreement signing ceremony held today between Transport Minister Ameen and MTCC CEO ZIyad.-- Photo: Nishan Ali / Mihaaru

Ameen voiced concerns about how the previous government implemented RTL Ferry services, indicating that the service had been provided in islands against the devised plans. For instance, although Lhaviyani atoll was earlier designated as within the current zone about to implemented now, services had been commenced early on separately for that atoll.

"When they announced it then, the plan was to include Noonu, Raa, Baa and Lhaviyani atoll in the same zone: Phase two. But then we don't know how, Lhaviyani has been removed from Phase two and services commenced just in that atoll alone. Even MTCC is facing difficulties because things have been done against the plans and policies," Ameen said.

RTL Ferry services are currently available in Haa Alif, Haa Dhaalu, Shaviyani, Gaafu Alif, Gaafu Dhaalu, Seenu and Lhaviyani atolls. A total of 25 vessels are being used in the provision of this service.

At today's ceremony, an additional agreement was signed with MTCC to provide a high speed ferry service between Meemu atoll and capital Male' City.

Minister Ameen said that even at present, some travels within Meemu atoll are being conducted through MTCC. However, the biggest hardship they face is the challenges in arranging travel to and from Male'.

"Our government held deliberations with MTCC and this agreement is being signed after giving MTCC the subsidies they will get from these trips," Ameen eplained.

As per Ameen, two scheduled trips a week will be made between Male' and Meemu atoll.