India will launch a new cargo ferry service to the Maldives, which will link Kochi and Tuticorin with Male, in the third week of September to further bolster bilateral trade relations.

A vessel operated by the Shipping Corporation of India, capable of carrying 200 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) or containers and 3,000 tonnes of general cargo, will be used for the service, the Indian high commission in the Maldives said in a tweet on Thursday.

The turnaround time for the cargo ferry service will be 10 days, the high commission said.

“Sea-connectivity for prosperity! A direct ‘Cargo Ferry Service’ connecting #Kochi/#Tuticorin with #Malé will be flagged off [from India] in the 3rd week of Sep,” the mission tweeted, adding the service will fulfil a commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the Maldives in June 2019.

“It is expected to revolutionise bilateral trade linkages & support dvpt. of the northern atolls with extension of the service to #Kulhudhuffushi in future,” the mission said in another tweet.

The launch of the ferry service was discussed during a virtual meeting between external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Maldives counterpart Abdulla Shahid on August 13.

During the same meeting, India unveiled a $500-million package to help the Maldives build a connectivity project linking its capital Male with three islands, and provided $250 million as budgetary support to help the Indian Ocean archipelago cope with the Covid-19 crisis.

 

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