Cause of seaplane crash remains uncertain

The civil aviation authority is yet to determine what caused a Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) seaplane to crash land near the Kuredhu Island Resort last week.

The accident investigation coordination committee said in a statement last night that the investigation will continue once the seaplane is resurfaced. The coastguard, police, and TMA are assisting the investigation.

The Twin Otter seaplane sank within minutes of crash-landing around 5:30pm last Tuesday. A speedboat rescued the 11 tourist passengers and three crew members within minutes.

The investigation committee said it has retrieved the seaplane’s records, recovered some of the seaplane’s parts with help from the army, and interviewed passengers and crew.

The MNDF and TMA have made a plan to recover the submerged seaplane, the committee said.

Seaplane accidents are rare in the Maldives. In February 2012, an Maldivian Air Taxi aircraft crash-landed on the water runway at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport with nine passengers due to poor weather conditions. None of the passengers or crew sustained injuries.

A TMA flight crash-landed near Biyadhoo Island resort in February 2011.

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Schools closed over dengue outbreak

Following an outbreak of dengue fever, the government has closed schools until further notice. At least two people have died from dengue this week.

Speaking at a press conference of a high-level task force formed to control the spread of the mosquito-borne disease, education minister Dr Aishath Shiham said schools are being shut down temporarily to ensure the safety of students.

Special classes will be organised for grade 10 students to prepare for their O’ Level exams in October.

A pregnant 18-year-old woman died of dengue fever at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital on Friday night while a migrant worker died in Gaaf Alif Kooddoo last week.

A seven-month old infant who showed symptoms of dengue-fever died at Baa Atoll Eydhafushi today.

Meanwhile, some 1900 people sought treatment for a flu this week alone. The symptoms of the flu include diarrhea and vomiting.

A relatively severe outbreak of dengue in 2011 saw a record high 12 deaths.

Health minister Iruthisham Adam told the press today that the government’s efforts were geared towards preventing an outbreak of similar proportions.

Compared to the 2011 outbreak, the health minister said the spread of the disease this year has been “manageable” due to proactive preventive measures.

In addition to mosquito fogging in Malé and the atolls, Iruthisham said the government is launching a nationwide clean-up programme, and appealed for participation at the household and community levels.

Arrangements have been made to provide treatment for dengue fever at the government-run Dhamana Veshi urban primary health centre, the police ‘Noosandha’ clinic, and the Senahiya military clinic, she said.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has meanwhile launched a 24-hour ‘dengue hotline’ and urged the public to call or text 7548221 for information.

Housing minister Dr Mohamed Muiz said the ministry is scaling up its cleaning efforts to eliminate mosquito breeding sites from construction sites.

An additional tug boat will begin operations today to improve waste management services in the capital, he added.

Home minister Umar Naseer appealed for cooperation from councils, clubs and communities in islands with the government’s programmes.

Earlier this month, HPA issued an alert warning of the spread of dengue and viral fever across the country and advised precautionary measures to control mosquito breeding during the rainy season.

The agency advised the public to empty stagnant water from containers, throw trash into dustbins, and keep containers sealed to prevent water from accumulating.

The HPA also advised wearing clothes that hide the skin, using mosquito repellants, and keeping doors and windows closed during dawn and dusk.

The agency has stressed the importance of cleanliness and hygiene to prevent the spread of the disease and advised seeking medical assistance if a fever persists for more than three days.

Symptoms of dengue fever include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash.

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Government seeks to write off fines for illegal parking

The parliament today accepted for consideration amendments to the 2009 land transport law to write off outstanding fines for illegal parking.

Earlier this month, President Abdulla Yameen pledged to write off fines accumulated for traffic violations and illegal parking.

Following a preliminary debate, the government-sponsored legislation was accepted unanimously with 67 votes in favour and sent to committee for further review.

During today’s debate, several MPs said illegal parking has become commonplace in the capital after the president’s announcement. Motorcycles are parked outside homes, mosques, and hospitals, the MPs said.

The traffic situation in Malè is out of control and extensive revisions should be made to the law to tackle the problem, MPs contended.

Opposition MP Ahmed ‘ADK’ Nashid suggested issuing ‘certificates of entitlement’ after assessing whether a vehicle owner has the parking capacity and introducing ‘pay parking’ services.

The amendments propose leaving it to the discretion of the police to impound vehicles from parking zones after a week and either destroy or auction vehicles if owners do not come forward in 15 days.

If passed, the amendments would also exempt disabled persons from paying traffic fines or annual fees for their vehicles.

The traffic police would still be authorised at their discretion to impose fines for illegal parking, impound vehicles, and dock points from driving licenses.

Speaking at a function with youth supporters on June 6, President Yameen observed that the fines for some motorcycles impounded at the tow yard has reached up to MVR80,000 (US$5,188), which most youth were unable to afford.

“We have submitted a bill to the People’s Majlis to write off debt or arrears built up like this. So from the day this bill passes, those youth will no longer be in debt,” he declared.

According to a 2011 report by the Environment Protection Agency, one in six residents of the capital own a motorcycle.

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Pregnant woman dies of dengue fever

An 18-year-old pregnant woman died of dengue fever at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital last night in the second death from the mosquito-borne disease this year.

The woman died after going into shock around 2:20am, IGMH media official Zeenath Ali Habeeb told Minivan News. The patient was three months pregnant and was admitted on Thursday with a high fever, she said.

The hospital declined to provide personal information, but local media has identified the deceased as Hamdha Hassan, from Noonu Maalhendhoo.

A migrant worker had also died of dengue in Gaaf Alif Kooddoo last week as the Health Protection Agency (HPA) warned of the rapid spread of dengue across the Maldives.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, health minister Iruthisham Adam revealed that 374 cases of dengue has been reported so far this year, of which 125 were reported from Malé. Some 112 cases have been reported in June.

The incidence of dengue was “alarming,” she said, and appealed for public cooperation with mosquito control programmes.

Dr Ahmed Faisal from the IGMH said most patients admitted at hospitals with dengue were at a dangerous stage and expressed concern with the spread of dengue among migrant workers.

Last year, the health ministry said dengue fever has become endemic in the Maldives since 2004 with annual outbreaks.

A relatively severe outbreak of dengue in 2011 saw a record high 12 fatalities.

A total of 1,083 dengue cases were reported in the Maldives in 2012. The HPA has previously said that construction workers face an increased risk.

Earlier this month, the HPA issued an alert warning of the spread of dengue and viral fever in Malé and the atolls and advised precautionary measures to control mosquito breeding during the rainy season.

The agency advised the public to empty stagnant water from containers, throw trash into dustbins, and keep containers sealed to prevent water from accumulating.

The HPA also advised wearing clothes that hide the skin, using mosquito repellants, and keeping doors and windows closed during dawn and dusk.

The agency has stressed the importance of cleanliness and hygiene to prevent the spread of the disease and advised seeking medical assistance if a fever persists for more than three days.

Symptoms of dengue fever include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash.

Dr Faisal said the worst incidence of dengue has been reported from Alif Alif and Alif Dhaal atolls as well as Baa Thulhaadhoo and Malé.

The most dangerous stage of dengue is when the fever subsides after three days, he warned, and advised seeking medical attention if symptoms such as bleeding and fatigue persist.

He also advised drinking lots of liquid and resting to recover from the fever and warned against the use of unprescribed strong medicines.

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Manager found guilty of sexual harassment let off with warning

A manager at the state-owned Hulhumalé Development Corporation (HDC) has been found guilty of sexually harassing a female employee, but has been spared with a warning.

The HDC’s human resources manager Mirshan Ahmed was accused of sending inappropriate text messages to an employee who had joined the company in March.

He had suggested she was hired for her looks and told her he would penalize her when she did not respond to his messages.

According to newspaper Haveeru, Mirshan admitted to sending the inappropriate texts at a review committee.

The HDC deputy managing director Mohamed Shahid told Minivan News today that Mirshan has been warned, and said the HDC has decided to renew the female employee’s contract.

Speaking to Minivan News previously, the employee said HDC had declined to renew her contract when she raised the allegations of sexual harassment.

She said she then sent an email to all HDC staff with proof of Mirshan’s inappropriate remarks. The HDC subsequently fired the assistant director of marketing and suspended an IT officer for a “security breach.”

Shahid today said the HDC has reinstated the marketing staff and cancelled the suspension of the IT staff.

According to a law passed in May 2014, government offices must set up internal committees to investigate complaints of workplace harassment within 60 days. The committee is authorized to warn, suspend or dismiss the perpetrator.

The HDC employee who had filed sexual harassment charges told Minivan News that Ahmed regularly commented on her clothes and her hair.

“He once messaged me saying I should thank him for this job. He said he saw my picture on my application form and hired me because I looked so pretty,” she said.

“Maybe because I am a single mother, he once told me that I am a ‘buy-one-get-one free’ deal.”

When she first complained to her colleagues about the harassment, she was advised to stay silent and warned that she may lose her job.

However, she lodged a complaint with the senior management after other female employees shared similar experiences of harassment from Mirshan.

Minivan News was unable to reach the employee for comment at the time of going to press.

Aerial photo of Hulhumalé by Nattu Adnan

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Piles of garbage left on Malé streets

Piles of garbage have been left to rot on the streets of Malé days after a housing ministry organized waste disposal program ended.

The housing ministry on June 14 announced it will pick up trash from households between 4pm and 10pm on June 15. The program was announced ahead of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

Officials said households must register to get trash cleared out.

Five days later, several houses are continuing to leave trash on Malé’s narrow and congested streets.

Housing minister Dr Mohamed Muizz has accused the opposition of deliberately thrashing the streets of Malé. On June 18, the first day of Ramadan, Muizz said the waste disposal program was over and said that the opposition has been “throwing out garbage in different areas” of the city to hinder government efforts to “keep Malé clean.”

On the same day, the housing ministry released a statement saying it had cleared trash from some 430 registered households on June 15.

“We regret to inform that the ministry will not be throwing out any of the trash being thrown out on the streets from now on.”

However, the ministry on Friday said some 50 staff had helped clear 68 truckloads of “illegal garbage.”

Malé City’s deputy mayor Shifa Mohamed said the housing ministry’s waste disposal program was poorly planned.

“First they say they will throw out the trash a day before they start the program. Two days later, they say not anymore. That is not how people’s behavior works.”

Not everyone is up-to-date on the ministry’s latest announcements, she said. “Some people took out trash they have been keeping inside their homes for more than 8 years.”

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has meanwhile announced that it will fine the households that have left garbage on the streets after June 15.

“Throwing out trash in this manner, is illegal under the waste management regulations enforced by the EPA,” read the statement.

Article 11 of the waste management regulation prohibit waste disposal on streets and parks.

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‘Hired for my looks': HDC employee alleges sexual harassment

This article is by Farah Ahmed

A former employee at the state-owned Housing Development Corporation (HDC) has said she was subjected to sexual harassment by a senior staff who once allegedly told her she had been hired for her looks.

The employee, who had started work at the HDC’s legal department in March, said the company’s human resource manager Mirshan Ahmed had sent her inappropriate text messages and regularly commented on her clothes and her hair.

The harassment began the first week she started work.

“He once messaged me saying I should thank him for this job. He said he saw my picture on my application form and hired me because I looked so pretty.”

When she did not respond to his text messages, he allegedly threatened to muddy her work record.

“One of his messages said: “from now on I’ll only be there for you’. And when I didn’t respond, he sent a message saying ‘I’ll be bad to you only. I’ll put this on your profile’,” she told Minivan News.

“Maybe because I am a single mother, he once told me that I am a ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ deal.”

HDC deputy managing director Mohamed Shahid said the issue is under investigation and declined to comment further.

Newspapers Haveeru and Vaguthu have meanwhile said the Economic and Youth Council at the president’s office has tabled the issue and discussed penalties.

Mirshan was not available for comment at the time of going to press.

Inappropriate texts

When the female employee, who wished to remain anonymous, first complained to her colleagues about the harassment, she was advised to stay silent and warned she may lose her job.

However, other female employees soon began sharing their own experiences of harassment by Mirshan.

Some told her several had been fired before for raising the issue.

“Once, at a meeting with office staff, he told a woman who was about to sit, that she couldn’t fit in to the couch with her friend because her butt was too big – so it wasn’t just me who was being harassed. This has clearly been an on-going thing.”

She lodged a complaint with the senior management and an internal committee was set up to review her claim. But when her three-month probation expired on June 4, she was dismissed.

“I was told to go home. There were no formal letters at first. They told me my probation period was over and that I was just a replacement for someone who had to be moved to a different department – they didn’t tell me this when they employed me. Despite the harassment, I liked my job – I even told them I’d work for free.”

The committee has since decided to reinstate her job. But the HDC managing director Mohamed Simon has ignored the order, she alleged.

“When I finally got my termination letter, it said that they did not have the budget to keep an extra employee in my department and that’s why they were letting me go. I felt that I was being dismissed for personal reasons just because I actually spoke out about this,” she said.

She then sent an email from her work email account to all HDC employees with copes of her termination letter and chat-logs demonstrating Mirshan’s inappropriate comments.

HDC fired the assistant director of marketing and suspended an IT officer for “a security breach.”

Minivan News was not able to contact Simon at the time of going to press.

The parliament in May passed a law against sexual harassment, which mandates government offices to investigate complaints of workplace harassment within 60 days.

The review committee can warn, suspend or dismiss the perpetrator.

This article previously said an HDC assistant director of marketing was suspended for an alleged security breach. This is incorrect, he was dismissed.

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Sacked TVM reporter to be reinstated

The employment tribunal has ordered the state TV to reinstate a reporter who was sacked unlawfully in February and ordered a payout of MVR 100,800 ($6536) as compensation.

Nasrulla Haadhy, a long time employee of Television Maldives (TVM), was dismissed when he refused a transfer to a bureau in southern Addu City.

“I was sent to the Addu City bureau, but there was no office there. They also did not give me food and salary allowances that were provided to others who worked out of Male’ City. Their reason was that my wife is from Addu City. I refused, and then they dismissed me,” he said.

Nasrulla now works at privately-owned Channel 13.

“I intend to return to the job. I worked there because I loved to work there and I have no problem with the management. I just disagreed with two people from the senior management,” he said.

In March, a TV Anchor Ali Shamin was dismissed from TVM after he alleged the station was biased in its coverage of political unrest triggered by the jailing of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed.

A senior journalist Mohamed Afsal was demoted in the same month after he criticized the criminal court for refusing to let journalists leave the court premises during a break in between hearings in Nasheed’s terrorism trial.

Minivan News understands Afsal was reinstated to his former position when he threatened to file charges at the Employment Tribunal.

The government in April seized control of the state TV and radio stations after dissolving the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation through a new law.

Ruling party MPs appointed five members proposed by President Abdulla Yameen to the new Public Service Media (PSM) board without interviewing them.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called a move an attack on press freedom and described the PSM as a “state mouthpiece.”

Umar Manik, the chairman of the former board, was the only incumbent who was appointed to the new board.

Staff at the PSM have long complained of favoritism and lack of independence in successive governments.

Some staff who spoke to Minivan News today said the new board had promised changes.

“We have always complained about favoritism and discrimination. The new board promised change but it is still the same,” a female reporter who wished to remain anonymous said.

Another senior journalist, however, said some journalists who were deliberately left without work are now included.

“The new board has included those who were isolated over disputes and is encouraging us to work together,” he said.

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Vendors turn Malé’s surf point into trash dump

Vendors have turned Malé’s surf point Raalhugandu into a waste dump after the biannual street market.

The two-week long market ended on June 13, but vendors left plastic, wood, cardboard boxes and pipes at Malé’s water front. The market organizer Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) has not picked up the trash two days after the market ended.

Some 500 stalls were set up for the market.

The dumping of trash at the surf point sparked outrage on Twitter.


The MNCCI’s Vice President Ismail Asif told Raajje TV that the clean-up effort had been slowed by difficulties in transporting and offloading the garbage onto barges that would carry the trash to the dump on Thilafushi island.

The Malé City Council is cleaning up the mess now. Councilor Shamau Shareef appealed to the public to join him in the clean up with “brooms, gloves and garbage bags.”

As the sun set, only migrant workers staff were seen cleaning the area. Much of the garbage has been cleared on the outermost Bodu Thakurufaanu Magu, but adjoining Ameenee Magu is yet to be cleaned.

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