Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) has increased the frequency of its public ferry service between Male’ City and suburban Vilimale’ following the ease on lockdown measures in place in the capital.
MTCC said that it increased the frequency of its ferries in order to cater to the rise in demand for public transport services following the ease in lockdown measures.
MTCC’s General Manager Mohamed Nazim told Sun the company’s ferries will now make 20 trips per way between Male’ City and Vilimale’.
“We ceased our transport services with the lockdown and HPA [Health Protection Agency]’s ban on transport. However, we arranged six trips to transport health professions. And in Ramadan, we increased the frequency of ferry services to 12 trips. And we have now increased the frequency to 20 trips under the advisement of NEOC [National Emergency Operations Center], with the relaxation of the lockdown,” he said.
With the relaxation of the lockdown, people are now able to travel from Vilimale’ to Male’ on business permits.
Nazim said the changes have resulted in an increase in demand for ferry services.
“When we had made six trips, we catered to an average of 450 customers. When we increased to 12 trips in Ramadan, the number increased to 950. And with this most recent change, an average of 1,400 to 1,500 people are travelling on a daily basis. However, we check to see if they have the permit to travel from Male’ to Vilimale’, and are only allowing those who have the relevant permits,” he said.
MTCC also provides passenger ferry services between Male’ and Gulhifalhu, and between Male’ and Thilafushi, along with cargo ferry services between Male’ and 11 atolls.
Maldives identified its first coronavirus case on March 7, and declared a state of public health emergency over the pandemic four days later on March 11.
While coronavirus cases had initially been restricted to resorts and safaris, and later quarantine facilities holding inbound travelers, Male’ City identified its first coronavirus case on April 15, prompting a city-wide lockdown and a nationwide ban on nonessential travel.
The populous Male’ City has since become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, contributing to over 90 percent of the total cases.
Maldives has confirmed 1,901 coronavirus cases, 763 of whom have since recovered. Eight have died from complications.
The government began relaxing the lockdown measures on May 28. The first phase, which is for two weeks, will end on Thursday.