The much-awaited Kochi-Maldives ferry service is a step closer to being realised, with the Centre reconsidering the proposal mooted in 2011.
The proposal for a ferry-cum-cargo service from here to the island nation was mooted in 2011 following the SAARC Summit. This was followed by a meeting between officials of Kochi and Maldives ports and the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI).
At the meeting, it was decided to structure the service as one having a passenger capacity of 300, apart from the capability to carry 15 to 20 containers and around 500 tonnes of bulk cargo. The transit time between Kochi and Maldives on a modern ferry is a day and will hence be ideal even for perishable cargo.
A senior Kochi Port official said the SCI had expressed keenness to operate such a service even recently. “There was no intimation after that. It was learnt that the Indian Ambassador to Maldives have a letter to the Shipping Ministry, seeking the ferry cum cargo service,” he added.
“Our role comes in only after the service is finalised for introduction. We are open to provide berthing to the vessel. A market study to assess the feasibility of such a service must be held. It must also probe whether the demand is more for such a service from Kochi, or from Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram,” the official said.
The Kochi Port has a variety of berthing options, from its BTP berth where small and medium ships can be berthed, to other berths where bigger ones can call.