The government has issued a MVR 62.7 million (US$ 4 million) compensation claim for damages caused to the coral reef on Male’s east coast by a stranded cargo ship.
Earlier this month (January 7) a 27,000-ton vessel called ‘Auguste Schulte’ became stranded in shallow water while attempting to make a turn near the coast of the Raalhugandu area in Male’.
Tug boats, assisted by the Maldives National Defence Force, were able to refloat the 213 metre long ship after a three-hour effort, local media reported.
A subsequent investigation by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) calculated the damage to the reef to be worth MVR 62,733,800, Chairman of the Transport Authority Abdul Rasheed Nafiz told Minivan News.
“[Auguste Schulte’s local operator] Silver Company can either pay the fine to the government so the ship can continue its voyage or pay a bank guarantee should they wish to carry out their own investigation and let the ship leave.
“From what I understand, [Silver Company] intend to carry out their own survey and through that they will try negotiate the compensation claim cost,” Nafiz added.
The Transport Authority Chairman said that the Attorney General had stated under the Environment Protection Law that the government has the right to assess the damage to reef and calculate the cost of such damage.
The Transport Authority earlier stated that the government could impose a fine of MVR 85,000 (US$ 5,508) per square metre of damage caused to the reef.
Mohammed Nabeel, Managing Director of Silver Company, told local media that the company had begun efforts to try and secure the bank guarantee that currently stood at $4 million.
“We are trying to make sure that the ship departs as soon as possible. We do believe that there must be a fine in this matter, but the government has also said that there is room for negotiation,” he was quoted as saying by Sun Online.
Nabeel added that the company was also trying to assess the damages caused by the stranded vessel, and that negotiations will be based on their findings, local media reported.
Previously, a ship operated by Delmas – the same company local media reported to have owned Auguste Schulte – became stranded in the same area for 20 days.
Nabeel told local media that the compensation claim for that previous ship was set at MVR 4.5 million (US$ 291,828), adding that the contrast between the two figures is “remarkable”.
Responding to these comments, Nafiz said that the EPA has produced a report on the latest damage and Silver Company will be able to compare the two incidents as the conclusion is based on “the same formula”.
Environment Protection Agency were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.