A pilot project to establish vehicle-free zones in the capital Malé will be introduced on February 15, authorities have revealed.
Speaking at a joint press conference with the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure and the Transport Authority of Maldives, housing minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu said the scheme will see the closure of Heena Goalhi and Raiyvilla Magu in Henveiru ward to vehicles, including bicycles.
“We will also establish special parking zones for people from houses on these roads, special permits will be given to them to park in these parking zones”, Muizzu explained.
President Abdulla Yameen has previously pledged to ban traffic in narrow lanes in Malé in order to ease congestion in the densely crowded city of 130,000 people, allowing space for children to play.
Transport Authority chairman Abdul Rasheed Nafiz said that the measures would need to go hand-in-hand with a reduction in the number of vehicles in order to find long-term solutions to traffic congestion.
Although the government has not finalised the measures, Nafiz said that current proposals included the halting of vehicle registration renewal for vehicles older than 15 or 20 years, with new vehicle registration open only allowed as older vehicles are taken out of use.
“The new slots will go to the highest bidder. We think this is the most fair manner in which we can do this,” Nafiz said.
Muizz today noted that a ministry survey had shown that some areas involved in the pedestrianisation scheme have storage facilities and garages, but that those businesses will be required to load and unload goods by parking outside the pedestrianised areas.
People who park their two wheeled vehicles inside their homes will be allowed to walk their vehicles to the houses inside the no-vehicle areas.
“Physical obstructions will be put in place and traffic police will be monitoring the area to ensure vehicles do not enter. We will ensure there is enough space for wheelchairs and such,” said Muizzu.
According to the ministry, the pilot project will continue with the closure of more roads in all wards along with Henveiru – including Galolhu, Machchangoalhi and Maafannu – until June 8.
Nafiz explained that the stickers assigned to vehicle owners of the residences in the pedestrianized zones will be given free of charge and must be displayed.