The state, on Sunday, signed the agreement with Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) to establish the first phase of Integrated National Public Ferry Network devised by the government to connect Maldives via sea routes.
In the ceremony held at the Senaco Hall of Dhivehi Raajjeyge Adu, Director General Fathimath Shana signed the agreement on behalf of Ministry of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure while Managing Director Adam Azim signed on behalf of MTCC, in the attendance of Minister of Transport Aishath Nahula and Planning Minister Mohamed Aslam.
Under this agreement, ferry services will commence at 41 islands in Haa Alif, Haa Dhaalu and Shaviyani Atolls before the end of September, Azim said.
He added that this project will make ferry services available every day, with backup vessels to ensure that services are not disrupted.
According to Azim, the service will be provided with 14 speedboats and three backup speedboats, each with a capacity of 40 to 50 passengers, designed and crafted by locals, with special consideration to persons with disabilities.
Although he assured that MTCC was attempting to commence the project as soon as possible, he noted that delays may be caused due to challenges in supplying the engines.
The President’s Office described the ferry network as “a large-scale project that introduces efficient, affordable, convenient and sustainable passenger and cargo ferry services to all administrative islands of the country”.
In line with the Decentralisation Act, the project aims to facilitate inclusive regional development by connecting people and services, accelerate social and economic growth, improve efficiency in the delivery of public services and improve mobility and accessibility for all citizens in all areas of the nation.
According to the PO, the proposed network classifies six central regions, as identified in the National Spatial Plan, and would provide two separate networks for passenger transit and movement of goods and services (cargo ferry) within and in between the regions—linking maritime transport with land and air transport.
”The ferry network would connect islands within the areas and between areas via three types of links; commute links, non-commute links and highway links”.
In both the National Spatial Plan and the Strategic Action Plan, the government had previously identified that an integrated national transport service was a national priority, although no sustainable efforts to establish such a network were launched in the past.
The project would also contribute to achieving several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through its broad socio-economic impact, the President’s Office noted.