Shares in the mobile security firm Nexbis, which won a contract to install a border security system in the Maldives, dropped 6.3 percent on Friday on the back of rumours that the project had been suspended.
The ‘build, operate and transfer’ concession contract covered the design of an electronic border gate system, as well as entry and exit documents, reported CFOworld.
The project was aimed at tackling the rising numbers of foreign nationals working illegally in the country, almost all of whom arrive via Male’ International Airport.
In a statement, Nexbis said it had not been informed of any suspension of its contract with the Maldives Immigration Department and was currently seeking clarification.
The Immigration Department confirmed to Minivan News today that the project had not been suspended.
A source within the department told Minivan News that while Nexbis had not been informed that the project was suspended, “but it hasn’t started rolling yet either, and now we’re waiting for the Anti-Corruption Commission.”
The Nexbis project ran into difficulties immediately after the signing on October 18, when the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) alleged it had received “a serious complaint” regarding “technical details” of the bid. The government initially appeared inclined to continue rolling out the project while it was investigated.
Of the current delay, “to my knowledge the ACC can’t give the go ahead because the committee members are not in the country. We are expecting to begin before the holidays,” he said.
“So far it appears to be an internal issue within the immigration department. There is no doubt that the project would close the doors to illegal workers and the hinder profits of those inside the country processing people.”
“There is no balance between the number of expats we having the country running around looking for jobs, and jobs available. That suggests there are people we don’t need in the country who are coming in too easily,” the source said.
Exploitation of foreign workers is epidemic in the Maldives and is the second highest earner of foreign currency after the tourism industry, according to numbers provided by the former High Commissioner for Bangladesh, Dr Selina Mohsin.
Many companies in the Maldives were benefiting “and facilitating” the problem, the source told Minivan News, which was impacting those companies “who do operate legally and pay visa fees to the government.”
The Nexbis system will store biometric data and allow the tracking of workers without relying on paper documents.