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India launches direct shipping service between Tuticorin and Maldives to boost connectivity and trade

India has launched a direct shipping service between Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu and Maldives as part of efforts to improve connectivity and bilateral trade between the two countries.

Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Shantanu Thakur flagged off the vessel ‘M.V. MSS Galena’ from V.O. Chidambaranar Port on Friday.

The service was initiated following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Indian Ministry of Port, Shipping & Waterways and the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation of Maldives during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the archipelago in June 2019.

The ‘M.V. MSS Galena’ has a carrying capacity of 421 TEUs of containers and is equipped to transport bulk cargo. It arrived at PSA SICAL Container Terminal on May 4 and was loaded with 270 TEUs of containers.

The service, which operates on a Tuticorin-Male-Tuticorin rotation, is scheduled to make three calls a month. The first sailing to Male will take place on May 5 and is expected to arrive on May 7.

“This service added a new chapter to connectivity initiatives taken by both countries in (IOR) Indian Ocean Region & promoted, developed & stabilized shipping connectivity between Indian & Maldivian ports,” Thakur said at the launch event.

The initiative will cut logistical and other costs, enhance connectivity, and reduce the time taken to transport goods between India and Maldives, Thakur added.

India is hoping to enhance trade and economic opportunities and maritime trade links with its neighbour through the direct shipping service.

The new service will replace the current practice of sending bulk cargo bound for Maldives through barges and sail ships, while containers were routed through Colombo. A service between Tuticorin, Kochi, Kulhudhuffushi and Male was previously operated by Shipping Corporation of India.
Source: Livemint

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