The Shipping Ministry is taking up a major initiative that could add to Kochi’s tourism potential. For the first time in Kochi’s history, a passenger-cum-cargo ferry service would soon be operated between Kochi and Male.
The decision was taken at a high-level delegation meeting between India and Maldives to improve bilateral maritime cooperation between the two countries last week. It has been provisionally agreed to initiate the preliminary work for a regular passenger-cum-cargo ferry between Kochi and Male. The ferry service, which would be preferably biweekly, would be run by a private operator but all facilities on either port of call will be made by the concerned ports.
Sources in the Shipping Ministry said as per the existing scenario the service would be commissioned in two months. “The Expression of Interest (EoI) for the ferry would be done by the Shipping Corporation of India. It has been cleared and the EoI would be floated by next week. Based on the response, the Request for Proposal (RFP) would be fine-tuned. Hopefully, we would be able to commission the service in two months,” sources said.
The high-level delegation meet led by Union Shipping Secretary K Mohandas and Mohamed Latheef, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Communication, Government of Maldives, also discussed various issues on bilateral cooperation. An agreement has also been made to promote leisure cruise service between India and Maldives.
“In fact, the delegation from India also considered the possibility of developing the regional port in Kulhundhuffushi in the upper north province of Maldives,” sources said.
The port and shipping officials are looking into the trading opportunity for Kochi and Maldives. It has been estimated that last year 25,000 Indians visited Maldives against 1.55 lakh Chinese. After 2008 there was a huge dip in tourists coming to Maldives. So, it’s an opportunity for it, too.
“Only 10 percentage of Maldives’ imports are from India. The 1 million tonne cargo import is through Tuticorin."
"The Cochin Port has started the concept of becoming a logistics hub. So, Maldives should become the first focal point for the Kochi Port. The Indian delegation has asked for trade break up data,” said sources.