MTCC to build docking terminal in Thilafushi

The state-owned Maldives Transport and Construction Company (MTCC) is planning to invest MVR52 million (US$3.3 million) to build a docking terminal on the industrial island of Thilafushi near Malé.

MTCC chairman Hussain Salim reportedly said at the company’s annual general meeting last night that the dock yard can be completed in three years.

The company could earn a profit of MVR100 million (US$6.4 million) in a short period due to high demand for the service, he added.

The company will also introduce steel construction this year, Salim said, which is cheaper and faster than concrete structures.

MTCC also plans to invest MVR700 million (US$45 million) during the next five years to improve the capability of the local construction industry. The investment includes buying a dredger for land reclamation projects, Salim said.

The company made a record profit of MVR81.64 million (US$5.2 million) in 2014.


Funds for political parties delayed

The Elections Commission has delayed disbursing funds allocated for political parties in the 2015 state budget due to a delay in verifying the exact number of members in each political party.

A former MP for the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, has alleged the commission is delaying funds to obstruct political party activities.

The MDP, the Adhaalath Party and members of the Jumhooree Party have launched an antigovernment campaign over the imprisonment of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

Some MVR19million (US$1.2million) has been allocated for political parties in the 2015 budget.

The 2013 Political Party Act states the state must allocate 0.1 – 0.2 percent of the budget for political parties. Funds must be disbursed within the first three months of the year according to the number of members in each party.

The parties must submit an annual report and an audit report before funds can be disbursed.

A spokesperson for the Elections Commission denied Thasmeen’s allegations and said the deadline for disbursing funds and the deadline for submitting the required documents to the commission fall on the same date.

“There was a delay in the verification of members of political parties as per the numbers stated in their annual reports. But we are now in the process of handing out the funds,” media officer, Fazla Ahmed said.

Commission member Ahmed Akram told CNM: “We are supposed to complete these two procedures within the first three months. So we need some time to check the reports. The commission doesn’t want to withhold the funds.”

There are 15 parties registered in the Maldives. Many are dysfunctional.

The commission in March fined the MDP and the opposition Adhaalath Party by MVR47,000 and MVR33,000 respectively on the charge of inciting violence in their then-daily protests.

The two parties have refused to pay the fines and asked the commission to review its decision. Fazla said today it has not made a decision on the appeal yet. The commission is authorized to deduct the sums from the annual payouts.

The commission has ruled a second mass protest by the opposition on May Day unlawful.


Government to replicate legendary boat

The government is planning to replicate a boat used to liberate the Maldives from Portuguese rule in the sixteenth century, as part of the ongoing celebrations to mark fifty years of independence from the British.

Mohamed Thakurufaanu and his brothers from the northern island of Utheemu reportedly sailed the legendary Kalhuohffummi by night, infiltrated islands, killed sleeping Portuguese soldiers and sailed away by day break.

British author Roysten Ellis said the Kalhuohffummi was crucial in the eight-year long guerrilla war against the Portuguese, with the three brothers using the boat’s superior speed and maneuverability to outsmart Portuguese warships.

The home ministry today signed an agreement with the Maritime and Underwater Heritage Society to replicate the Kalhuoffummi for a professional fee of MVR 1.6 million (US$105,000).

Deputy Home Minister Ahmed Saleem unveiled the boat’s design today and said it was finalized after two months of research.

The heritage society’s Mohamed Haleem said the design is based on books by Hussein Salahudeen and Burahad Mohamed Fulhu.

“Our research shows the vessel is 51 foot and 4 inches. We are trying to construct the boat using traditional techniques used at the time to remain true to the original vessel,” he said.

The boat will be built on Baa Atoll Maalhos, transported to Malé and put on display at the Sultan Park.

“We will be able to finish the boat by August. We are currently trying to find the best timber for the boat. It has to be very specific coconut timber,” said deputy minister Saleem.

The Maldives’ independence day falls on July 26, and is celebrated to mark independence from British rule.

The Maldives celebrates Mohamed Thakurufaanu’s struggle every year on National Day, which falls on the first of Rabee-ul-Awwal, the third month of the Islamic calendar. Thakurufaanu ruled for 16 years.

Other events planned by the home ministry to mark the golden jubilee of independence from the British include skydiving, a swimming competition, a sea sports festival, a world record attempt, float parades, an international football tournament, a police tournament, several music shows and the unveiling of the new currency design.

The government has also started decorating the streets of Malé with national flags and sacrificed 150 goats in a public ceremony in April.

The Independence Day celebrations have drawn criticism over the lack of transparency of expenses made out of the state budget. However, the ‘Independence 50′ office under the home ministry has said that most of the work is done by volunteers.


Two narrow lanes in Malé pedestrianized

The housing ministry has pedestrianized two narrow lanes in the capital Malé city.

The Embu goalhi and Gul’alaa goalhi in central Machangoalhi ward were closed to traffic as part of a campaign to make Malé city friendlier to pedestrians.

The housing ministry has also barred vehicles from parking in the lanes.

Malé is one of the most congested cities in the world.

The housing ministry in February pedestrianized two lanes, the Heenaa Goalhi and the Raivilla Magu. However, they were opened up for traffic within days after residents in the area complained.


Maldives film wins bronze medal at regional film festival

A Maldives feature film has won a bronze award at a SAARC film festival held in Sri Lanka in May.

The film titled, Insaanaa (Human), was directed by veteran actor Ali Seezan. It won the bronze medal against 18 other films from the region.

A second Maldivian film, Hulhudhaan, was also featured in the festival.

Maldives also won the bronze medal the previous year for Ravee Faroog’s Ingili (Finger).


Maldives to hold a second investment forum in China

The Maldives will hold a second investment forum in China’s capital Beijing in September, the economic development minister has said.

“Beijing will be a perfect place for Maldivian businesses to promote their businesses and networking,” minister Mohamed Saeed said in a tweet.

The first investment forum was held in Singapore in April 2014.

At the time, President Abdulla Yameen had sought investors for the ‘I-havan’ project to develop a port in the north, oil exploration, the development of Hulhumale and relocation of the business port to Thilafushi Island, and the development of the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

In November 2014, the president declared a foreign policy shift to the East, after denouncing “Western colonial powers.”

The China and Maldives have signed several MOU’s to increase cooperation in the military and health sectors, and the Maldives is now a partner in China’s maritime silk route.

Chinese experts are currently conducting a feasibility study for a bridge between Malé and Hulhumalé.