Bengaluru: India launched its first ever Cargo Ferry Service with Maldives. 

In a ceremony to mark it, Mansukh L. Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge) and Aishath Nahula, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation of the Maldives were present.

The Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) will be operating it and connect Tuticorin and Cochin ports with Kulhudhuhfushi and Male ports.

The vessel is expected to arrive in Kulhudhuhfushi on September 26 and Male on September 28. The MCP Linz is a combination vessel which can carry 380 TEUs and 3000 MT on bulk cargo, and will have a turnaround time of 10-12 days for its voyages, officials said, as reported by Economic Times.

Earlier in 2019, PM Narendra Modi had announced India’s inclination to start a ferry service between the two nations.

It further notes that the decision to commence the Cargo Ferry Service between the two nations was announced during a virtual meeting between Foreign Minister Dr. S Jaishankar and Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid on August 13. To begin with, India will subsidise the service at approximately $ three million.

The service is expected to improve the trade relations between the two countries. 

Beside the expansion of markets for MSMEs in India, the Cargo Ferry service will provide an opportunity to Maldivian exporters of tuna and other marine products to scope the vast Indian market and springboard to Europe through Cochin and Tuticorin ports. For instance, Cochin Port has weekly connectivity to Europe through a 6500 TEU vessel.

The Cargo Ferry Service is another commitment delivered by India to connect Indian and Maldivian markets, unlock the trade and investment potential between the two nations, and, strengthen people-to-people contacts for mutual prosperity, officials pointed out, the website adds.