In less than 15 months’ time, First Cargo Ship set sail to the island nation from the Indian Port of Tuticorin.
The maiden voyage was launched in an e-flag off ceremony jointly by MOS (Independent Charge) Ministry of Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya and Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation of Maldives Aishath Nahula. Speaking on the occasion, Mandaviya noted that this service is another milestone in the comprehensive bilateral relations between India and Maldives. He mentioned that this direct cargo service will further cement the close ties between India and Maldives by enhancing people-to-people contact and boosting bilateral trade.
An MoU between the Ministry of Shipping in India and the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, Maldives to commence the Cargo Ferry service was signed during PM’s visit to the Maldives last year in June, PM had opted the Maldives for his First state visit in his second term as the Prime Minister of India.
Commencement of the cargo ferry service was announced by the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during his virtual meeting with the Foreign Minister of Maldives Abdulla Shahid on August 13 this year.
The Cargo Ferry Vessel MCP Linz operated by the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) will connect Tuticorin and Cochin ports in India with Kulhudhuhfushi and Male ports in the Maldives. The vessel is expected to arrive in Kulhudhuhfushi on September 26 and Male on September 28. The ferry service will run twice a month.
This vessel provides direct cargo connectivity between India and the Maldives on a predictable and affordable basis for the first time and will lower costs and times for traders in both countries. To begin with, India will subsidise the service at approx. USD 3 million.
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. The vessel has reefer plugs for refrigerated containers.
This vessel provides direct cargo connectivity between India and the Maldives on a predictable and affordable basis for the first time and will lower costs and times for traders in both countries. To begin with, India will also subsidise the service at approx. USD 3 million.
The expansion of the Hanimaadhoo Airport (through an Indian Line of Credit) and the Cargo Ferry Service connectivity to the northern port of Kulhudhuhfushi will underpin the economic development of northern Maldives and facilitate investments in tourism and other engines of prosperity. Besides 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 the 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.
By: Abhiskek Jha