The first dedicated cargo ferry service between India and Maldives is all set to start operations from Thoothukudi on September 20.
Amit Narang, Joint Secretary, External Affairs, announced the new ferry service at a virtual conference organised by FICCI.
The cargo vessel will leave Thoothukudi on September 20 and will be received at Cochin Port Trust on September 22. It will reach the Maldives on September 26 and will have a return voyage from there on October 1. There will be two or three services every month. The starting of the service is an important milestone in the geo-economic and political relations between the two countries and it would be a big boost for business communities in both the countries to expand their business and trade relations, he said.
Improving trade, connectivity
Sunjay Sudhir, the Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives, pointed out that this is an important step forward in the ‘Neighbourhood First policy’ of the Indian government and the culmination of MoU between India and Maldives signed in 2019 with the objective to improve connectivity through an alternate and lesser expensive means of transport for goods.
Detailing the first scheduled cargo ferry service, HK Joshi, CMD, Shipping Corporation of India, said that the first vessel – a container-cum-bulk ship – would commence its maiden trip. The turnaround time of the vessel would be 10-12 days depending on the actual vessel operations at Male. The vessel can carry all types of commodities such as electrical machinery, furniture, pharma products, etc along with perishable goods, she said.
M Beena, Chairperson, Cochin Port Trust, and TK Ramachandran, Chairman, VOC Port Trust, described the initiative as a major step towards the country’s efforts in connecting closely in business and with the people of Maldives, especially for Kerala and Tamil Nadu, that are closely located and have trade and business activities with the Maldives.
This important step has been initiated to actualise the proposed ferry service following the feasibility study conducted by FICCI with the High Commission of Maldives to assess the potential of Exim trade between the two countries and the economic viability of commencing the cargo ferry service after the Prime Minister’s announcement last year.
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