In what will bring much relief to citizens, residents and tourists when launched, the National Ferries Company (NFC) is working on starting services on the Muscat-Masirah route. Speaking to the media recently, Mahdi bin Mohammed Al Abdwani, CEO of NFC, said, "We will launch Muscat-Masirah route after completing the construction work at Shanna and Masirah harbours." The company also plans to launch Khasab-Bandar Abbas and Khasab-Qashm route. The NFC recently announced the launch of two ferry boats Shanna and Jawarhat Masirah on the Shanna-Masirah route which will be operational today. "The company plans to launch Diba route, which will connect Khasab and Shinas next week," the CEO had said. "The company has invested almost OMR500,000 in rehabilitating the berths in Shanna and Masirah through an international tender," the CEO informed. Twenty per cent growth Al Abdawani cited the latest statistics published by the company as per which the total number of passengers it transported on board its ferryboats during the first seven months of 2014 grew by 20 per cent, reaching 22,275 from 18,579 passengers similarly transported during the same period in 2013. The number of vehicles shipped by the ferry boats as of July-end, 2014 also grew by eight per cent to hit 3,381, compared to the same period in 2013. Al Abdwani pointed out that in response to the Royal Directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said about providing employment opportunities to Omani youth, the company has employed and trained a number of citizens in the wilayats of Mahout and Masirah to run the reservation offices in Shanna and the wilayat of Masirah. By the end of the first half of 2014, the Omanisation rate in the company stood at 68 per cent, with potential for further growth. National Ferries Company has been contributing significantly to the maritime transport infrastructure and development. The NFC's fast ferries serve passenger and vehicle movements between key ports include Muscat-Khasab (Musandam), Khasab-Lima (Musandam) and Shinas-Khasab. (timesofoman)