Government demands GMR “temporarily halt” construction of new terminal

The Maldives government has called for a cessation of work on the new airport terminal by Indian infrastructure group GMR, over allegations the company has “violated rules and regulations” regarding the construction.

President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza confirmed to Minivan News that the cabinet, acting on information provided by the Transport Ministry, had requested that building work on the new terminal at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) be halted.

“When the government decides that a project be stopped, we will make sure this happens,” he said. “GMR have not discussed the construction with relevant authorities.”

Abbas did not clarify if the alleged violation of rules and regulations by the company was related to previous reports that construction on the project commenced last month without obtaining  construction permits from the country’s Civil Aviation Authority.

Transport and Communications Minister Dr Ahmed Shamheed was not responding to calls at the time of press.

A GMR spokesperson said today that the company itself had received no letter or communications calling for a halt to work.

However, local media has reported that the cabinet opted on Tuesday (July 24) to call for a “temporarily halt” on work on the terminal, over claims GMR had not acquired necessary authorisation and permit approval from the country’s Civil Aviation Authority.

GMR told Haveeru earlier earlier this month that terminal construction had been approved in an existing master-plan agreed with the government. The company has pledged that it will open by July 2014, “irrespective” of outside issues.

Addressing the matter of GMR’s construction work earlier this month, the government at the time claimed that the permit was “not a huge issue” and was believed to have resulted from an error by contractors presently working on the airport’s construction.

Development plans

The development of the airport – expected by the company to total US$511m in costs – is the largest foreign investment project undertaken in the Maldives’ history and includes commitments to renovate INIA’s existing terminal by September both in terms of operational efficiency and customer services, according to GMR.

With contractors already having begun work on the new structure in June, the administration of President Dr Mohamed Waheed has previously stressed that it would not seek to interfere or “disturb” the project that officially commenced back in November 2010 under the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

However, President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas previously claimed that the long-term prospects of the construction ultimately depended on GMR validating the legality of their contract – a document that was overseen by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IFC is a member of the World Bank group and the largest global institution focused on private sector in developing countries.

Abbas added that should the (now government party controlled) parliament also decide on nationalising the airport in line with the wishes of certain pro-government parties to take back the project from GMR, then the present administration would have to comply with such a decision.

The government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan comprises a coalition of former opposition parties that represent the majority of elected representatives. The now-opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presently has 29 MPs in the Majlis, the largest number of MPs belonging to a single party.

Nationalisation calls

Several pro-government parties – including the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP), Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), People’s Alliance (PA) and Jumhoree Party (JP) – advised President Waheed last month that they continued to endorse an agreement signed in June 2010 calling for the airport to be taken back from GMR and nationalised.

The agreement endorsed six main points which included taking legal action to prevent the government’s decision to award the contract to GMR.


52 thoughts on “Government demands GMR “temporarily halt” construction of new terminal”

  1. The problem is that GMR has refused to accept that though their master plan has been approved by then government through Airport Company that they still need specific approvals and permits from the relevant authorities.
    The Airport Company as the lessor has granted them the rights to construct the terminal etc but the approving authorities include the Environment Ministry, the Aviation Authorities, and other relevant government departments.
    They have not done this at all. GMR cannot produce any written approvals so virtually they are bluffing to the media when they say they have these specific approvals.
    In fact they are violating Maldivian regulations and laws with impunity.
    In fact the IFC themselves are to blame for this fiasco. IFC maybe part of the World Bank but they are a profit making body and have messed this deal badly in the Maldives.

  2. This government is doing a stupid mistake by jeopardizing the investor confidence in Maldives. The airport was in scrap when it was leased to GMR. Apart from the infrastructure the staff are look aftered professionally by the Company. When a bunch of pea brains who is controlled by the rich n filthy tycoons , make decisions for a government - .the end result can be disgrace, humiliation, stress and failure n who is the biggest looser... the public, especially those who are working hard to make ends meet : the rich n filthy & politicians remain intact pocketing the income of the corrupt government

  3. GMR go home.
    We do not want an airport like Delhi Airport. The place looks appalling despite being a new airport.

  4. When there is no such a thing like a nation, where this nationalist idea does comes to these monkey brained people of this water world. The banks in the banana republic are holding papers that are even not good to wipe ass, isn’t any investment from outsiders are better, at least they will have to bring the hard currency they need to do their job. Instead of halting the project, isn’t much better to make them to complete this project even earlier than the project is planned. These shortsighted self centered idiots are again gone to square one like the 30 years of dictatorship and will slowdown any pace that can shorten the lengthy bureaucratic rubbish. The so called self claimed president talks about to think about the country first and forgets that he has no country; he only has some useless brain less infestation of subhuman. What he needs to do is to think how he can feed these people first and worry about what he can do to shelter them. Why can’t we see that these baboon doing anything to create people to operate such establishment and get rid of foreign workers? The banana republic is based only on service industry; the only way to retain foreign currency will be what people save in the banks from their earning. Probably if he talks about to think about the sea first, and do something to produce fish which is only sustainable and feasible to nationalize, would have some sense.

  5. I guess we have got the warning from India for this issue - local cargo carriers being sent back.

  6. Facilitation should be the key word here.

    All political considerations aside, if GMR is here to stay then any elected government in this country must try and work with them rather than publicizing slip-ups and errors at every turn.

    As noted above by jameel, if GMR has failed to meet regulatory and administrative requirements, then by all means, bring it to their attention and get things back in line.

    However if the concession contract cannot be terminated without a costly nationalization process then I support working with GMR rather than quibbling over trivial matters.

  7. No one can take any action against the contact made between nasheed' s government and GMR. Nasheed knows that no one can say anything against any Indian reputed company and his vision is to maintain good relation with India through business contacts. India is the largest democracy in the world and keeping good relation with such a country will help to make maldives a democratic country . Most of the Indians know that (ex-president gayyom) is
    corrupted leader who hates democracy to survive in the Maldives.

  8. The biggest foreign investment was to be the solar farms which would have given the Maldives energy Independence. This Gov scared those BILLIONS of hard USD away. Seems they want the airport to to go back to a tuna cave. Or is it they want their own fingers in the pie?

  9. Its is the biggest FDI so far, play games and it will also be the last.

    Foreign investments bring in not just capital, but other skills we sorely lack. It is a myth that foreign managed companies employ fewer Maldivians. Maybe true that more expats are employed initially, however they invest in HR development and encourage locals to grow within the company as it is much more cost effective to employ locals (not counting slave like labour from Bangladesh). Dhiraagu in a good example of a well managed Maldivian company, started with foreign investment.

    All newly developed countries owe their success in being open to foreign capital and expertise.

    I don't accept our illegitimate government to do much for the peoples' interest. But despite gaining them short term monetary benefits by nationalizing, they will lose out in the long run. I hope they realize this.

  10. If the Indian high commissioner 'Muley' is replaced by more respected person with good background (as he 'muley' has played a great role to bring this coup through corruption in connection with ex-regime's corrupted leader and his followers), GMR can continue their project more smoothly and can get blessing from the majority of the maldivian public to the Indian government as development of INIA is the biggest foreign investment in the Maldives and India gets the record first. People who loves democracy will never encourage Muley be the Indian high commissioner to the Maldives as he is very dull & cheap minded person with no dignity & respect from the Maldivians at present
    times.-big mistake-

  11. Not a temporary halt but a permanent halt of construction of any terminal by GMR in near future is very possible. There may be a secret deal made between the coup master planners and the Indian H commission to hinder the work of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) as to make them to give up the project and finally to grab the airport from the Maldivian government by Gasim (the investor to overthrow democratically elected government). Be vigilant.

  12. This is not right. GMR should not have to take written approvals from any govt ministry. Maldivians laws should not apply to them, as by signing the agreement to hand over the airport to GMR the Maldivian govt has agreed to this deal. No further approvals are needed to be taken by this govt.

    Even though this may undermine the rules and laws of the Maldivian constitution, and common citizens may advocate that they do not have to take approval from Govt (eg: import license for importing, drivers license for driving vehicles), i believe that Maldivian laws should not apply to GMR because they are such an influential company who donates lots of stuff to Maldivians as charity.

    When we Maldivians goto foreign countries to do businesses do we have to take approvals from relevant Govt Authorities overseas ? No we dont. We can open shops and do businesses because in other countries there are no laws that Maldivians have to abide by. Likewise GMR does not have to abide to any maldivian laws. The maldivian constitution is a joke, and GMR is doing the right thing by ignoring the pathetic laws and constitution of the Maldives.

  13. There are some who are still very vocal about re-nationalising the airport and kicking out GMR. They claim that the Maldivians can do this themselves.

    The truth of the matter is, that Maldivians simply cannot undertake a project of this magnitude. I wonder whether the nay sayers have any idea about the amount of US$ that have been poured in to the airport development over decades. Much of that have been wasted due to incompetence and the rest due to corruption at all levels.

    The other counter argument is that the airport was generating a lot of revenue for the government and so, in theory, the government itself could afford to carry out this project. Once again, lets look at reality. Even if the government was able to finance the half billion dollars, it lacks any form of project management or business management expertise to run such a large project. As a result, most of that money would have been wasted or siphoned off by corrupt officials, of whom we seem to have more than our fair share.

    Success of projects like this depends not only on money. Money is just one of the factors and the rest depend on the competencies of the staff running and managing the project. For better or worse, GMR has been awarded the contract. If there was a loop hole in it, I'm quite sure that would have been discovered by now.

    This move by the regime is clearly aimed at disrupting the work of GMR and a project that is of significant national importance. As others have pointed out, minor quibbles over pieces of paper work could have been handled much more diplomatically and skilfully. After all, it's not as if the Civil Aviation Authoriy is going to refuse permission to build the new terminal!

    The regime is demonstrating quite clearly to every single foreign investor that it lacks the necessary skill in maintaining confidence and dealing with those investors.

  14. The contract with GMR was signed by President Nasheeds government, Now with a government yet to prove its legality is ruining every institution, every agreement, and the international community is well aware of this. GMR should fight back, and they have every right to do so because the agreement with them has the blessing of the people, and this country belongs to the people of the Maldives.

  15. @ Suvadeep

    "The truth of the matter is, that Maldivians simply cannot undertake a project of this magnitude."

    Well GMR is not the right party then.
    Have a look at their work and I am sure you will agree with me.
    Their workmanship scores 2 out of 10 on my scale. And I certainly do not want our new airport to have such a low score on this. We cater for the up-end market of tourists not to hippies and back packers. I want our airport to be one of the nicest in the world. And with GMR doing the renovation/building, this hope will remain a hope until we decide to do the sirport all over again.

  16. Most of you have no clue about this at all. There is something called the International Civil Aviation Organisation which the Maldives is a signatory.
    This UN organisation makes the rules and regulations for Aviation.
    Certain criteria is set by them and all have to follow them whether they are International or not.
    GMR or any other airport operator is bound by this regulation and they have to follow this. One of the primary thing is that they need approval from the relevant aviation authority to develop or make any changes to an aerodrome. There is a specific way to obtain this approval. GMR has not done this at all.

    As for Maldivians not being able to run an airport is pure poppycock. Yes if you put incompetent and corrupt people then you would not be able to do so.
    If you put the right people then you can. GMR has much less experience in running airports than Maldives Airport Company.
    There were better bidders than GMR. People like Paris Airport and Swiss Airport. Yet under the influence of IFC and their consultants, GMR was dragged in. In fact GMR failed in their initial technical bid yet was forced in.
    The Concession agreement signed by Government is a travesty of Justice for Maldives. No Maldivian who loves his country would accept such a one sided concession agreement.

  17. The problem is that gayyom and his corrupted followers couldn't digest the sudden development which was coming to the Maldives at a suprising level within a short period of time during president Nasheed's 3 years time compared to the developments which mr.gayyom has brought during the past golden 30 years. And other power hungers were realized if he (Nasheed) left untouched that no parties can compete MDP and brought this coup with the help of Indian high commissioner and created a Rebel Government. They also were thinking GMR may help MDP during the presidential election and PPM may loose the post of presidency. If this hindrance is from the rebel government, PPM might be thinking finally the GMR will divert their financial assistance to them on condition of not talking about breaching of contact made between the maldivian govt and GMR. PPM is very corrupted party in country in my opinion.

  18. jameel on Sat, 28th Jul 2012 12:52 AM

    Would you mind using your real name or would you comment using the same name that you usually comment on ?


  19. @ Rafiqul Alam Shuaib
    'We do not want an airport like Delhi Airport'.....the truth of the matter is that you cannot afford a terminal like New Delhi Airport which cost $3 billion.....your bankrupt little country cannot afford this OK? I have said before Maldives has the population and economy of a small suburb of New Delhi.
    I wonder if the Maldives can really afford a new airport at all.....better to keep the old tin shed terminal and use the old clapped out turboprops for inter atoll transportation.
    Apart from India I do not see any other country investing in infrastructural projects in Maldives.....your sunni brothers in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have been very reluctant to part with their money.
    Even your best hospital IGMH is a gift from the people of seems gratitude is an unknown concept in the Maldives.

  20. Greedy rebels is right. Look at the improvements in the Maldives airport. true the same old building, the same runway, the same leaky places, the laughable partitions constructed with Gipson boards. Isnt this progress enough ? Maldivians are just stupid, they will complain about anything. the truth is, they dont have any say in this right now, because the Airport rightly belongs to GMR to do as the company pleases.

  21. to build this airport , the cost of uSd 511 million will not reach. This is inflated price and maximum it will cost will be USD 280 million. Being a qualified QS I totally know how much it is going to cost unless they bring " Gold Furnitures" .

    Airport is not outside the jurisdiction of Maldives or GMR is not above the law. GMR is also required to get the necessary approval from the concerned authorities like EPA, Airport Authority etc. GMR also need to learn to respect the laws and regulation here in this country.

    IF GMR is not bound to abide these laws, why would other have to follow the procedures in constructing Resorts Hotels and building.

    Basic issue here is that GMR is acting like own government and they think the airport is their own land and Maldivian laws are not applicable there.

    Many of the people commenting here is very biassed either pro MDP or pro government and non of them want to know the facts

  22. Why should we be grateful to India for what was ultimately the will of Allah (swt)?

    Though yes, the new airport is a travesty to the senses, not unlike New Delhi itself. Poor workmanship.

    The Indians can take credit for this if they want. Our 'gratitude'.

  23. Is there a word in Dhivehi for 'Gratitude' I wonder?.....or is your native language as primitive and underdeveloped as you are?


  25. Anni had done nothing good in the GMR deal and anni had taken huge amount of money from GMR deal. This is the fact.

    But what ever is done is done. The new government need to continue with the contract . However this does not mean that GMR is above the law and they need to follow the procedure in place in construction of the terminal as other projects.

    Even the resorts are required to submit the detailed drawings, EPA , MEB and MWSC approval and why these rules has to be exempted to GMR.

    Resorts are also given on a long term lease the owner has more rights on what they want to construct and what kind of resort that they want build and how many rooms they want build within 30% land area etc. But still there are lot of permission that are required to get prior construction and during construction and after the construction also.

    Be reasonable and politicizing this is not going to take any where neither the government nor the people of Maldives will gain anything.

    Not even MDP or the current government . But GMR has to respect the rules and follow the rules as long as they are doing this within the archipelago of Maldives.

  26. mody on Sat, 28th Jul 2012 12:18 PM

    And now you picked up yet again another name.

  27. @Mody

    Ignore him. He is fighting some imaginary online battle against Kutti Nasheed, who he accuses everyone who doesn't tow the MDP party line and possesses a fair command of the English language of being.

    Talk about delusional. Yeesh!

  28. @tsk tsk

    some idiot in this is pretending to be me! and I think its mody since

    mody on Sat, 28th Jul 2012 4:33 PM
    lol what are you talking about ?

    check the time! theres a connection

  29. LOL on Sat, 28th Jul 2012 5:58 PM

    this is not the real commenter. this is the same guy who is coming and commenting on different names. You know you will not be able to do this if they dont allow different names on each email. Why would you be watching the replies here if its not you ?? it is you !! stop pretending @@

  30. It's called being literate, son.

    Though I don't meant to insult you for the lack thereof.

    You are halfway there after all. 😉

  31. It is not your problem me being literate or not. I never bragged about my literacy I agree my grammar and writing is not excellent or Impeccable.

  32. See what I mean, here is more evidence im being impersonated. It should be illegal to use the name LOL on Web 2.0 by anyone except myself. Minivan I am the real LOL, really check my email Im the real LOL, stop impersonating me

    LOL on Sat, 28th Jul 2012 6:06 PM
    LOL on Sat, 28th Jul 2012 5:58 PM
    this is not the real commenter. this is the same guy who is coming and commenting on different names. You know you will not be able to do this if they dont allow different names on each email. Why would you be watching the replies here if its not you ?? it is you !! stop pretending @@

  33. I Suggest minivan should encrypt the word LOL with a digital fingerprint only recognisable when subjected to an Iris scan, and then associate that to my email, no other way to stop the person pretending to be LOL (which I for some reason believe that im entitled to the name)

  34. LOL on Sat, 28th Jul 2012 7:48 PM

    this is crap no other than kutti nasheed

  35. Beware the evil of kutti nasheed
    LOL on Sat, 28th Jul 2012 8:01 PM
    LOL on Sat, 28th Jul 2012 7:48 PM
    this is crap no other than kutti nasheed

  36. Been going through this Lol argument here

    will someone tell me what a kutti Nasheed

  37. Kutti Nasheed is a voluptuous MP who once asked Qasim Ibrahim for cash through a telephone conversation that was subsequently made public.

    LOL the brainchild accuses everyone here who makes substantive, syntactically correct posts unsympathetic to the MDP perspective of being Kutti Nasheed.

    I cannot speak for the impersonater LOL who has done a remarkably good job of aggravating the poor fellow, but for myself I can. I am not Kutti Nasheed.

  38. Will the real LOL please stand up ! Please stand up ! Please stand up....

    Seriously stand up and go away. You're diverting the comments from the topic which is about GMR. go brawl elsewhere.

  39. "will someone tell me what a kutti Nasheed is?"

    A kutti Nasheed is someone who needs some cash.

  40. MY dear Miss India Pretty, Pretty Aishwaya Rai New Delhi.

    GMR is not giving us an aiport for free. Eau de contraire, they are ripping us off in the name of giving us an airport that will be so horrible that we Maldivians will be left wondering what have they done to our airport.

    Trsut me. To say that GMR is poor quality workmanship is an understatement. Go have a look at Delhi airport, if you do not believe me. I will not accept my toilet also to be as bad as that.

  41. If I may take part in this little scuffle.

    I wonder what the obsession is with Kutti Nasheed. As I have pointed out before it is highly unlikely that any MP in this country would have the time, especially now, to take part in an online comment forum.

    Also there are several literate people in this country who seriously do not support Nasheed or the MDP or PPM for that matter.

    Is that so hard for party activists to understand? Look at the figures on your beloved party registers for reference. Political party membership is around 100,000 in total while the electorate numbers in excess of 200,000.

    Also key in the fact that a large number of active party members cannot engage in a debate without invoking the infallibility of their respective cult heroes.

    I for one prefer anonymity for one main reason. It allows us to engage in worthwhile constructive debate in a country where a person's identity is often abused by people and institutions. Also you often face heavy repercussions for the mildest criticism on the most trivial forums. So that is my reason for remaining anonymous.

    I have never even met or spoken to MP Mohamed Nasheed. However LOL can go on believing what he wants if that helps him to sleep at night. However if he is as obsessive as he appears to be I suggest he compare the MPs flight-times with the timing of my comments for the answer to his question.

  42. stone age politicians making the wisest decisions without an iota of commonsense because their jealousy and hatred have taken the better of themselves.

    The country is on a nose dive only to be averted by a free and fair election.

  43. @ MissIndia NewDelhi

    What the hell is wrong with you? Why the hell do you spend so much time reading Minivan News and unleashing so much shit about Maldives? Go put your nose in Indian Express or your other newspapers,or better still, your shit infested streets, we don't need to see what you have to say! What you think of Maldives and its people is immaterial.


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