Trade hails India-Maldives cargo ferry service to start from Sept 20

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry has launched virtual road shows at three ports ahead of the launch of a direct cargo ferry service from Thoothukudi via Kochi to Maldives.

M Beena, Chairperson, Cochin Port Trust, who was the chief guest, said the cargo service has received a very good response from the trading community in Kerala especially from Malabar region.

The freight from Beypore and Azheekal ports is expected to reach Kochi by road and by sea to Mali. In addition, large-scale exporters from ports such as Kandla on the west coast to Mali via Kochi are expected.

India accounts for only 9.7 per cent of the Maldives’s total imports, so there is huge opportunity for Indian traders, she said.

Thooothukudi – Kochi

India-Maldives cargo vessel service operated by Shipping Corporation of India will call at Thoothukudi on September 20 and will be officially flagged off the next day. It is expected to reach Kochi on September 22 and will be formally flagged off on September 23 and reach Male on October 26.

Inaugurating the road show, the Deputy High Commissioner Rohit Ratheesh said that the new cargo ferry service would bring about a major change in trade relations between India and the Maldives.

This will open a new chapter in the trade relations between the two countries. He said the $2.2 billion financial assistance package provided by the Indian Government to Maldives would be used to develop the busy Mali port, which would accelerate Maldives’ foreign trade and economic growth.

In June 2019, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the two countries to start a direct passenger-cum-cargo ferry service to provide an alternative, direct and cheaper means of transport for goods and passengers and to further economic, social and cultural ties between the two nations.

According to a SCI official, the container cum break-bulk vessel will carry 200 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and 3,000 metric tons of break bulk cargo, with a round voyage of 10 days.

The trade cargo would include electrical machinery and equipment, white goods like televisions and home appliances, drugs, steel products, construction material, sand, garments and textiles, bathroom fittings and furniture and perishables, including fruits, vegetables, eggs and food grains, the official said.