New regulation provides offshore and off port services to foreign vessels

Offshore shipping and off port limited services will be offered to foreign vessels anchoring in Maldivian waters, in accordance with a new Maldives Transport Authority (MTA) regulation, reports local media.

The regulation, published April 24, will allow ships to anchored in designated off port areas to access services including bunkering, transferring goods between vessels, anchorage to conduct maintenance and repairs, as well as the exchange of crew, surveyors, and seamen.

The regulation aims to generate new revenue for the country, according to MTA.

To access the designated off port areas, ships must notify Maldivian authorities – via their local agents – 48 hours in advance, and provide notification of dangerous cargo and weapons. The regulation also mandates vessels use local agent services to seek off port and offshore services.

Large vessels can anchor outside the port limit in the following designated areas to receive services: Haa Alif Atoll near Uligamu Island and Haa Dhaalu Atoll near Kulhudhuffushi Island in the north, near the capital Male’ in the central atoll of Kaafu, as well as near Gan in Seenu Atoll in the south.


Government issues MVR 62.7 million compensation claim for stranded ship reef damage

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.


Stranded cargo vessel causes MVR 61 million worth of damage to reef

The cargo vessel stranded off the coast of Male’ last week (January 7) caused MVR 61 million (US$3.9 million) worth of damage to the reef, local media has reported.

An assessment conducted by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) showed that the 210 metre long and 30 metre wide boat had caused damage to the reef, Chairman of Transport Authority Abdul Rasheed Nafiz told local media.

According to Nafiz, discussions between the two parties are to be held during the next three days before a fine can be imposed.

The Liberian 27,000-ton boat named Auguste Schulte became stranded in shallow water when it attempted to make a turn, local media reported.

It was eventually refloated after three hours using two tug boats and through the assistance of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

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.


GMR opens new air cargo office complex

Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) on Sunday opened a new office complex for the Maldives’ air cargo facility, and introduced a computerised records system to monitor and track cargo for the first time.

The first order on the new system, used by airport developer GMR at its other airports in India, was printed by chief guest Fisheries Minister Ahmed Shafeeu at the inauguration event.

“Previously it was done using stacks of paper, reams of it,” said CEO of INIA, Andrew Harrison, adding that the system would allow greater transparency and monitoring for customs officials.

The new office complex includes offices for airlines and customs officials, as well as sales counters, and greatly increases the amount of room available for storage. Other innovations included a women’s washroom: “Previously the ladies working here had to walk all the way down to the domestic terminal,” noted Harrison.

The new air cargo facilities give the Maldives the capacity to become a regional trans-shipment hub, Harrison explained, observing that airlines such as BA already used the Maldives to carry goods such as garments from Sri Lanka.

There was, he said, a ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy which had worked well for the company in Hyderbad following its opening of pharmaceutical storage facilities.

Particularly in such an import-dependent economy such as the Maldives, cargo was attractive to airlines as was a more consistent revenue stream compared to fluctuating ticket revenue, and more able to withstand economic shocks.

“When the 2003 SARS epidemic hit, Cathay Pacific only survived because by then it was deriving 43 percent of its revenue from cargo,” Harrison explained.


MNSL board approves company shutdown after settling debts

A proposal to dissolve the  Maldives National Shipping Limited (MNSL) has been approved by the company’s board members as the group looks to settle any outstanding debts before ceasing operations.

Haveeru reported that the MNSL board had decided to discontinue its operations after settling the outstanding debts as part of a two stage shut down of the company.

Group Managing Director Ahmed Hameed said that the company would cease to exist under its current name  once debts estimated to amount to US$8 million were settled through a sell-off of assets like cargo ships.

With the Maldives Star, MNSL’s only currently registered cargo ship on its way for India for a possible Rf2.1 million  sale, Hameed claimed that the debts were expected to settled, according to the paper.


Customs seizes shipment of 260 toy guns

Maldives Customs Service last night seized 260 toy guns and handed them over to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) for investigation.

Spokesperson for the Maldives Customs Service Ismail Nashid said the shipment was imported to the Maldives from Thailand and the items were classified as toys.

“We are trying to determine whether these guns could potentially be used for other purposes, even though they have been shipped as ‘toys’,’’ said Nashid. ‘’After the investigation sn concluded we will hold a joint press meeting with the media and reveal details.”

The ship was a commercial cargo ship, which was loaded in Thailand, he said.

He said the guns were now under the observation MNDF.

Spokesperson for MNDF Major Abdul Raheem said MNDF had determined that the guns were toys.

“We are yet to find out how dangerous these guns are and in what other ways they could be used,’’ said Abdul Raheem. ‘’We can only provide information about the case after the investigation is concluded.’’

Maldives Customs recently intercepted five three-foot double-edged swords inside a container imported to Maldives from China.

Spokesperson for Maldives Ports Limited (MPL), Hassan Muzni Mohamed, said the swords were discovered during an inspection by customs officers.

The ship that carried the container, ‘MOL KOMATI’, was loaded in China and stopped at a port in Singapore prior arriving in the Maldives.