MPL delays starting ferry services to Atolls

Maldives Ports Limited (MPL)'s commercial harbor in Male' City seen from above | Photo: MPL

Malé, Maldives – Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) has postponed starting container ferry services to atolls, which they announced last month.

Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) previously revealed plans to begin container ferry services to atolls in June, in an attempt to facilitate the transport of goods brought to the Malé North harbour and the islands.

MPL was to start this service this June, as a means to combat current issues faced when transporting goods from Malé North Harbour to various Atolls.

However, the Managing Director of MPL, Shahid Ali stated in an interview with the local news outlet “Avas”, they have postponed starting the ferry service to atolls. MPL is yet to reveal a date for which the service will now begin.

MD Shahid said that they postponed the service as they do not anticipate a financial profit from it at the moment, as the number of containers and goods imported into Maldives has significantly decreased due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, we are fully ready for when the service can start. The problem right now is that we might incur losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Managing Director of MPL Shahid Ali

MD Shahid previously said that numerous containers are sent to the atolls and that this service is mostly provided by private companies, and routine services are unavailable. He said that this is why they are starting this service to provide a routinely scheduled container transfer service

MPL noted that once this service begins, the price of transport of goods will decrease, and in turn will result in favourable changes to the sale price of goods.

MPL’s MD also added that private shipping businesses charge excessively for goods transport, resulting in more expensive items, but that after MPL’s services start, the consolidated freight rate will change and prices of goods will fall. Container shipping prices currently range from MVR 30,000 to upwards of MVR 80,000, with prices based on the type of goods or the weather.

MD Shahid disclosed that MPL freight rates would be relatively low, with prices to be announced soon. The service will transport containers to the Hitahdhoo port in Addu City and to Kulhudhuffushi City Port, with plans to expand services to Thinadhoo once the island’s harbour is completed. This service was to begin this month with one vessel, with MPL revealing plans to expand in the future based on public support for this venture.