India-Maldives Ferry Services to Commence in January
Maldives Promotion House – According to reports the proposed Cochin-Malé weekly ferry service which will connect India and Maldives is likely to commence by February of next year.
The decision for the ferry service was made by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed during the SAARC Summit which was recently held in Addu City, Maldives. A team of officers from Maldives Ports Ltd led by Deputy CEO of Maldives Port, Hussain Naeem held discussions with Cochin Port Trust recently to finalise the arrangements.
It was decided to structure the ferry service as a cargo and passenger service with a total capacity of 300 passengers, roughly 15/20 containers and 500 tonnes of break bulk cargo. Reports from India have confirmed that SCI has been mandated to invite Expression of Interest and identify an operator to take up the ferry service.
In Cochin Port, the ferry will be berthed at BTP Jetty and will use the Cruise Terminal facility being developed. Work on the terminal is expected to conclude by March, 2012. Maldivian authorities have also show interest for the ferry to touch Kulhuduffushi Port, in Maldives. However, the ferry will start as a Cochin-Male–Cochin service and incorporate an option to extend it to Kulhuduffushi Port when the work is completed.
While a large amount of cargo from Kerala and South Tamil Nadu is currently moved to Malé routing through intermediate ports like Singapore and Dubai, the ferry service brings up promises of cargo movement directly from Cochin to Malé. There is limited movement of cargo from Tuticorin to Malé. The transit time between Cochin and Malé in a modern ferry is one day and will be ideal for movement for perishable cargo.