India launches first ever cargo ferry service with Maldives

New Delhi (NVI): The first ever Cargo Ferry Service between India and the Maldives was jointly launched today, a new chapter in connectivity initiatives in the Indian Ocean Region.

The maiden voyage of the ferry service was launched during a virtual ceremony by Mansukh L Mandaviya, India’s Minister of State for Shipping and Aishath Nahula, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation of the Maldives.

“During its maiden voyage, a vessel with a capacity of 200 TEU and 3000 MT of break bulk cargo will travel from Tuticorin to Cochin and make its way to Kulhudhuhfushi port in the north of the Indian Ocean archipelago on September 26 before making its way to Male on September 28,” the Ministry of Shipping said in a statement.

This ferry service, being operated by the Shipping Corporation of India, will run twice a month and will provide a cost effective, direct and alternate means of transportation of goods between India and Maldives, it added.

Speaking at the virtual event, Mandaviya said this service is another milestone in the comprehensive bilateral relations between India and Maldives.

He added 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.

Aishath Nahula, Maldives Transport Minister also expressed deep appreciation for the launch of the service as reflective of the close ties of friendship and cooperation between India and Maldives.

The statement further said that the launch of this service concretely fulfils the commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Maldives in June last year.

Later, the decision to launch the cargo ferry service between the two sides was announced during a virtual meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Foreign Minister of Maldives Abdulla Shahid on August 13.

Furthermore, the ceremony was also attended by representatives from Tuticorin and Cochin ports, the Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of External Affairs, as well as officials from the Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) and the Foreign Ministry of Maldives.