Transport Minister sacked after extending Maamigili airport lease for 99 years

Minister of Transport Dr Ahmed Shamheed has been removed from his cabinet post on Thursday after announcing the extension of the Maamigili airport lease for 99 years.

The private airport is owned by Chairman of Villa Group and Jumhoree Party (JP) MP for Maamigili, Gasim Ibrahim. The airport had initially been leased to the JP presidential candidate’s Villa company for 30 years.

Dr Shamheed was nominated to the post by the government-aligned JP and is a senior member of the party led by the business magnate MP.

Shamheed told local media today that the decision to extend the lease had been made in an Economic Committee meeting last week.

“Documents to extend the lease of Maamigili Airport for 99 years were sent to the transport ministry by [former President Mohamed] Nasheed’s government. But the current government delayed the matter. The present government only endorsed the decision. It was decided by the NPC [National Planning Council] during the former government,” he was quoted as saying by newspaper Haveeru.

In addition to Shamheed, the Economic Committee consists of Minister of Finance Abdulla Jihad and Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Ahmed Shafeeu, Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu, Environment Minister Dr Mariyam Shakeela and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb.

“Transport Minster Dr Shamheed has been relieved from his duties today. Defense Minister Nazim will be the care taker until replaced by JP,” government spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza tweeted today.

He added that the cabinet seat will be reserved for the JP, currently the third largest party in terms of membership in the ruling coalition.

Riza informed Minivan News that despite Shamheed’s dismissal, the decision to extend the lease had not yet been reversed.

Maamigili airport was opened in October 2011 with JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa ‘Flyme’ airline landing the first flight in the new airport at the Alif Dhaal atoll, which has a number of tourist resorts.

In recent weeks, Gasim Ibrahim has publicly alleged corruption in the sale of a 30 percent stake of the Addu International Airport Company Pvt Ltd (AIA) to business magnate ‘Champa’ Hussain Afeef’s Kasa Holdings.

In a letter to President Mohamed Waheed Hassan, Gasim insisted that the Addu airport should be developed by the Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) and went on to offer to reclaim land for the project free of charge “using my own dredger, employees and machinery with the government only providing oil.”

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18 thoughts on “Transport Minister sacked after extending Maamigili airport lease for 99 years”

  1. The Maldives is being cut like a piece of cake and divided between a few businessmen. What next? Is Yaameen going to 'lease' Male' for the next 200 years? I doubt there will be anything left by the time a new government can come in. Actually its not very funny.

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  2. @Ali on Thu, 8th Nov 2012 8:00 PM

    "So this Nazim Sor is a jack of all trade?"

    I bet that Nazim carried the knife that stabbed the good dctor in the back. That's one of the hall marks of Nazim. Remember that he once led the MNDF "intelligence" unit, under Dictator Gayyoom.

    There's no guessing as to what is going on. The traitors are looking over each others shoulders in fear of who'll get stabbed in the back next!

    Enjoy the power game, chaps.

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  3. Oh by!
    President Nasheed again to be summoned to courts for sending papers to Transport Ministry for extending period of lease of Maamigili Airport! Well! Well! Well!

    There seems to be 99 in the air!

    I am sure MP Gasim would care too hoots if this poor minister is sacked. He probably would have ordered the poor minister to do it or pay up!

    The typical of a jack ass!

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  4. "The nation feels like the mad Englishman in Bedlam who thinks he is living in the time of the old Pharaohs and daily bewails the hard labor he must perform in the Ethiopian gold mines, immured in this subterranean prison, a pale lamp fastened to his head, the overseer of the slaves behind him with a long whip, and at the exits a confused welter of barbarian war slaves who understand neither the forced laborers nor each other, since they speak no common language.

    “And all this,” sighs the mad Englishman, “is expected of me, a freeborn Briton, in order to make gold for the Pharaohs.” “In order to pay the debts of the Bonaparte family,” sighs the French nation." (Marx)

    We all hear a similar sigh from the Maldives. How does one have democracy or any semblance of political equality without some level of economic equality? OUT with these barons of high wealth and high society!

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  5. A little birdie told me that Nazim sor is holding this post for his "unique coup" friend FA.

    It seems that FA was promised this seat in the cabinet before baagee waheed mixed up cabinet positions during one of his "moments".

    Come to think of it, indeed FA has not had an "uplift" in his position as his other two buddies, Nazim sor and Postman Riyaz.

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  6. Pleas make each n every island an indepandant nations. 1.Nation of Gayoom.2. Nation of Gasim. 3.Nation of hurihas veriksmsa hedhi bagudi bsdash meehun.
    How nice it will .haha

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  7. If the decision was made by the National Planning Council and the Economic Committee, then why is it that the transport minister is sacked for that? Why does he alone have to bear the responsibility for that decision?

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  8. We need to create another country from the available land, country for the progressives, and let the old government(s) rot

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  9. ibrahim nasir international airport has been changed to " fahari international " on this day, Friday 9 nov. 2012

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  10. 99 years is too much. a high end type of resort in our country which takes 50 to 70 million dollars takes just 7 years to arrive at break even point. the rest of the time is for resort to make profit. so this fixation with 99 years is very wrong. profit shall be proportionate to investment.

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  11. Leasing Maamigili airport to 99 years is not a problem since Gasim build the airport by himself and reclaimed the land to build the airport too. Government never spend a single cent to develop the airport or to reclaimed the land.

    But Anni gave GMR airport which was only the intention airport in Maldives and we have spent huge amount of money and the place was earning over millions of dollars from there.

    Anni gave airport to GMR with a hand shake and all assets were given free and this is why people of Maldives are calling GMR to leave the airport.

    Gasim airport was no different from the lands that are given for the people to live and build houses. Look at lands given in Islands and Male' for the people to live. How many people have build multi story building and then rent out the apartments that are built on the land.

    Does the owner had to pay any lease rent to the Government , ? No it does not require? But Gasim is paying land rent and he build the airport with his money too?

    If the airport was build by the Government and then it was given to Gasim , I would not agree to extend the lease .

    No matter what Anni tries to justify on GMR deal, but the majority of people will never believe him and only those who had been praying Anni will only listen to his dirt .

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  12. The government has the freedom to lease out land on uninhabited islands for unlimited periods of time.

    Meanwhile the government's power to lease out an uninhabited island is restricted for a maximum period of 35 years.

    So nothing wrong has happened in a legal sense.

    What we need to look at next is the possible moral wrongness of what took place. In my opinion public opinion against this whole incident is based on the below facts:

    1. Qasim Ibrahim's Jumhooree Party has considerable influence over the government. Dr. Shamheed being a JP member is the Transport Minister. The Ministry had the mandate to evaluate the proposal for the lease extension. There are obvious problems of conflict of interest here.

    2. There was a publicly aired quarrel over the Addu Airport between Champa and Qasim earlier. The Maamigili Airport lease extension took place only days after.

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