The opposition dominated Malé City Council (MCC) has expressed concern after 377 of its employees were transferred to the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure.
Malé City Mayor Mohamed Shihab has said that all council employees working in the road maintenance department had now been transferred to the housing ministry without any prior notification.
“The council received a letter from the President’s Office saying that cabinet had decided to transfer management of the the roads to the housing ministry,” said Shihab. “The letter also read that all public squares and parks would also be transferred to the Housing Ministry”.
A statement from the ministry earlier this month said that it had taken control of 13 plots of land formerly controlled by the council and transferred the majority of the council’s public services division staff to the ministry.
The council’s jurisdiction of the city’s roads was removed in November.
Deputy Mayor Shifa Mohamed said today that the council was given two hours to provide a list of all employees to the government after which 345 employees were transferred.
“Since then they have even started requesting that certain individuals be transferred,” said Shifa. “We are unsure as to how the wages of the transferred employees will be paid, whether it will be paid by the housing ministry or not.”
The council originally had 900 employees working under it, including migrant workers, the council explained.
Mayor Shihab said that the council has only been operating within the powers granted to it by the Decentralisation Act, adding that the current government has been persistently making its work difficult.
He explained that the council has decided to file a case at the Civil Court regarding the government’s stripping of its responsibilities, and the subsequent distribution to different government ministries.
Last month, nearly all services at the council came to a halt after police confiscated important documents and several hard drives, including the server system necessary for daily operation.
Police searched and confiscated the council’s office on the night of November 26 after a search warrant was requested from the Criminal Court regarding a corruption case against council staff.
However, the council denied the corruption allegations which alleged some staff had used documents sent by the housing ministry to gain unlawful advantages.
Speaking at the time, Maafannu Hulhangu constituency councillor Shamau Shareef said the incident was one of many intended to intimidate the council and to prevent it from providing the services to the people of Malé.
Shifa has previously suggested that the government was plotting to “destroy decentralisation” after the housing ministry seized numerous plots of land from the council including two parks, artificial beach, carnival area, south harbour area, Usfasgandu, Dharubaaruge, and land near the T-Jetty in May.
In October, she complained that poor allocation of funds for road development projects under the council was one of the main reasons behind the severe floodings on the western side of the capital island during heavy downpours. The council’s jurisdictions over the roads was subsequently removed.
October also saw masked individuals wielding machetes cut down over 30 council-owned areca palm trees along the capital’s main thoroughfare, Majeedhee Magu.
Meanwhile, former President Mohamed Nasheed alleged police involvement in the chopping down of the palm trees while naming several Special Operations officers after the council had requested that the public submit any information about the issue.
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