Sailing vessels hit by newly begun cargo service to Maldives

Madurai: The launch of cargo ferry service from India (Tuticorin and Kochi) to the Maldives on September 21 has hit operation of sailing vessels from Tuticorin ferrying cargo between the two countries. Expressing concern over the impact of the services launched by the Shipping Corporation of India, the coastal sailing vessel owners’ association, Tuticorin, has appealed for reservation of select cargo to protect their sector.
Launched by the minister of state (independent charge) for shipping Mansukh L Mandaviya, the ship will ferry cargo from Tuticorin to Kochi and then sail to the Maldives and return in the same route. The ship has a capacity of 200 TEUs of containers and 3,000 tonnes of general cargo, which is manifold in comparison to the capacity of sailing vessels that have a capacity of 250 to 400 tonnes. The shipping service also gives a clear edge over sailing vessels in freight charges.
“We ferry cargo for $35 a tonne of perishable commodities, $30 for general cargo and $25 for construction materials from India to the Maldives and $20 for scrap from the Maldives to India. But due to lack of adequate cargo, the service has offered the service for $10 to $15 per tonne in the recent voyage. Even the government service cannot survive at these highly reduced fares,” association secretary S Lasington Fernando said. Their vessels have seen a big dip in cargo.
Lasington said that there were 85 cargo vessels in Tuticorin a couple of decades ago. Hindrances in the same and cargo shipping between the destinations affected sailing vessels and reduced it to just 20. At this juncture, they made an appeal to the Ministry of shipping and government of India for reservation of cargo – essential and perishable commodities and general cargo – for sailing vessels. Representation on the same was recently given to Tuticorin MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi and will soon be made to the ministry of shipping.

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