'India-Maldives cargo ferry is the key to the development of the north'

Maldives Foreign Minister, Abdulla Shahid has stated that the commencement of the India-Maldives Ferry Service is the foundation of new development for the northern regions of the country.

The Maldives-India Cargo Ferry arrived in Kulhudhuffushi early Saturday on its maiden voyage. A ceremony was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to welcome the vessel MCP Linz at its first port of call in the Maldives. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid, High Commissioner of India to the Maldives Sunjay Sudhir, Members of Parliament for Kulhudhufushi Constituency joined the ceremony.

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Foreign Affairs highlighted that the establishment of this service will greatly improve the bilateral trade between the Maldives and India and will help revitalise the economy, especially in the North of the country. The new service would limit the dependency on capital Male’ and develop services in the atolls, said the minister.

He expressed hope that the boost in sea connectivity would positively impact the economic trade between India and Maldives. The Minister further noted that a key enabler of boosting direct trade is to improve connectivity. The service boosts connectivity – which is at the heart of the bilateral relationship. It strengthens not only the political and economic relationship – but the people-to-people connections.

The Memorandum of Understanding on establishing cargo-cum-passenger ferry service was signed during the State Visit of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to the Maldives, in June 2019. The MoU emphasised the need to improve connectivity between the two countries through the establishment of enabling infrastructure and bilateral trade and reaffirmed that dynamic people-to-people contacts form the backbone of the bilateral relationship between two countries. The MoU further acknowledged the valuable contribution of workers, students, travellers and tourists towards the economies and communities of both the countries.

The announcement regarding the commencement of the cargo ferry service between the Maldives and India was made during the digital video conference between Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives Abdulla Shahid, and Minister of External Affairs of India Dr S. Jaishankar on 13 August 2020. The cargo ferry service will travel between Tuticorin, Kochi in India, and Kulhudhuffushi and Malé in the Maldives.