The State Electric Company (STELCO) has claimed it is facing difficulties in providing its services to certain parts of Male’ following the city council’s decision not to issue it with permits to carry out work, according to local media.
In a press conference held yesterday, STELCO Deputy Managing Director Mohamed Latheef said it had been informed by Male’ City Council (MCC) that the company was to temporarily cease providing services such as digging up roads in the capital as of December 5, Haveeru reported (Dhivehi).
Latheef said the company had since been facing difficulties in providing electricity services to parts of Male’ as a result of the MCC’s stance.
Disputes between STELCO and the MCC started after the state electricity provider began providing electricity to several locations in Male’ without the permission of the city council.
According to Latheef, the properties affected had been previously taken from the city council by the Housing Ministry.
“As the nature of the services provided by this company are such that we require the assistance and cooperation of the municipal service provider of the state, and because Male’ City Council has currently ceased providing its services, the subsequent result is that the company is now unable to provide certain public services,” he said. “Some of the services that require the permission of the city council include digging street sides, laying cables and certain tasks that require the roads to be closed off.”
STELCO Engineer Ibrahim Naashid said during the same press conference said that the state-owned company was receiving about 15 requests per day to connect electricity, but was unable to do so as a result of the city council’s decision earlier this month.
“On an average, we were unable to provide electricity service to 15 parties in the last three to four days. However, not all premises require the digging of roads to provide electricity cables, so we have provided electricity to some premises through our distribution box that have been previously installed. But if digging the road is required to provide the service, it is impossible to give the service now,” Naashid said.
Nashid explained that the company was required to obtain a permit from the city council to lay cable even in an emergency power outage, resulting in huge difficulties for the company in the present situation.
“Earlier, it is possible for us not to immediately get a permit from the city council in an odd time like midnight hours, but we do inform their supervisors and those responsible in maintaining the roads. If it’s a difficult time like midnight hours, we carry out the work and inform them the next day,” he explained.
However, Naashid affirmed that the company would still carry out its work in providing their service to the people in case of emergencies regardless of the views that the city council may hold.
Latheef claimed the company had held several discussions with the MCC, the most recent of which took place Sunday (December 9). However, the MCC was said to have remained unwilling to reverse their decision.
Latheef added that the company was in discussion with relevant government authorities and would be considering legal action against the MCC if deemed necessary.
Male’ City Council responds
In a response to STELCO’s claims, the MCC in a letter seen by local media, warned the state-owned electricity provider that it would take “harsh” action if any service was provided to the “people” without its permission.
The city council said STELCO was failing to abide by laws and regulations, as well ignoring two different letters sent to the company advising it to comply with such requests. The MCC stated that it had not received any response to its letters.
The letter signed by Deputy Mayor Shamah Rasheed and addressed to Managing Director of STELCO Dr Mohamed Zaid stated that it was the responsibility of the MCC to enter into agreements with parties and carry out business transactions. The MCC said such transactions were to be carried out in accordance with policies set by government authorities that outline the provision of basic services such as water, electricity and sewerage services to the people as stipulated under the Decentralization Act.
Deputy Mayor Shamah, MCC councillor Mohamed Abdul Kareem and STELCO’s Managing Director Dr Zaid were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.
Fallout with Housing Ministry
The MCC is also involved in an ongoing dispute with the Housing Ministry over the ownership of several areas in Male’, which have now been taken over by Housing Ministry.
In an announcement, the Housing Ministry has said that the city council’s opening of bidding for development projects of several areas of Male was against state regulations. The announcement was made after the city council open requests for bids to develop Male’ southern harbour and a part at Alimas Ufaa Carnival.
The Housing Ministry has contended that the MCC did not have any legal authority to open bidding process of the areas and that it would not be responsible for pecuniary or any other damage suffered by groups who submit bids for the development of the regions.
Despite the remarks made by the Home Ministry, MCC member Ibrahim Shujau told local media outlet Sun Online that the council believed that the Alimas Ufaa area was legally under the council’s jurisdiction. He contended that efforts to develop a park in the area would go ahead.
The MCC on Sunday (December 9) took the matter to the parliament, where it had requested for assistance in resolving the matter.
Speaking to local media, Shujau said that the council had filed the issue with parliament after seeing that it could not carry out its work with Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizz in the position. He added that the case had been filed with Parliament’s Government Oversight Committee.