Government tasks fisheries company with providing public transport in Addu City

The government has terminated an agreement with MVK Maldives Pvt Ltd to provide bus and ferry services in Addu City, and tasked the state-owned Maldives Industrial Fishing Corporation (MIFCO) with providing the public transport services.

The contract with MVK was signed by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government in 2009 under its Public-Private Partnership policy.

Minister of economic development Mohamed Saeed told the press today that the government has been “receiving numerous complaints regarding the ferry services” in the southernmost atolls.

“The ferry, which was supposed to be running between Addu City and Fuvahmulah has been stopped for almost a year, while the bus services within Addu City have suffered interruptions,” he said.

“That is why we decided to annul the agreement with MVK and hand over the agreement to MIFCO.”

Saeed said that the MDP government’s transport system was built “very irresponsibly” on a loose foundation, alleging that it was intended to provide unlawful gains to certain parties.

A nationwide transport network was one of five main pledges of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

MIFCO is also providing ferry services in the Gaaf Dhaal and Gaaf Alif atolls in the south after former President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s administration terminated an agreement with Trinus-CAE Holdings Pvt Ltd.

MIFCO’s CEO Adlee Ismail said the company’s immediate focus would be to start providing services to the current standard.

“We have to bring buses and other vehicles from abroad. Our aim to bring air-conditioned and modern vehicles,” said Adlee.

Adlee said 30 percent of the company’s fish stocks are from Addu City, and that the company is planning to open a fish processing plant in the Hulhumeedhoo ward early next year.

Turbulent history

MVK was leased a guesthouse in Gan for 50 years in exchange for providing the ferry services.

However, Addu City Mayor Abdulla ‘Soabe’ Sodiq previously told Minivan News that the guest house “which was functioning well when handed over,” is now mostly vacant and neglected.

The guesthouse transaction was later investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission in 2010, which found that it was awarded illegally.

MVK was also questioned by the parliament’s government oversight committee in September 2014 regarding its failure to provide the transportation services.

At the time, company officials told the committee that plots of land awarded under the initial agreement had not been handed over.

However, the company agreed to resume transportation services, requesting until December 2014 to start the inter-atoll ferry to Fuvahmulah.

Saeed said today that the government has shown a “good example” by cancelling the contract, declaring that it will not hesitate in terminating agreement if there are shortcomings in providing services to the public.

The current administration has already terminated several of the MDP government’s projects, such as the Tatva waste management agreement.

Former president Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan in 2012 terminated an airport development agreement with Indian infrastructure GMR.


Customs investigates GMR eviction of Alpha MVKB

Maldives Customs Authority has said it will take “necessary legal actions” against GMR, which it claims illegally attempted to vacate Alpha MVKB Duty-Free shop at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), reports local newspaper Haveeru.

Customs is investigating the case, an unidentified senior official reportedly told Haveeru.

After the attempted eviction on December 5, Customs Director Ismail Nashid told Minivan News that goods at duty free shops fall under Customs’ supervision and the “unsold goods can only be taken out of the shops with their permission”.

However, “GMR took out the goods without notifying us,” a separate Customs official told Haveeru today.

GMR directed Minivan to Customs over the issue. Customs did not respond to Minivan’s inquiries at time of press.

GMR began dismantling the Alpha MVKB Duty Free Shop, which sells alcohol, cigarettes, and watches, after “several notices” to vacate the area were “ignored” by the owners, GMR’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mahika Chandrasena earlier told Minivan News.

MVK has meanwhile decided to protest GMR’s management, in spite of rulings from the High and Civil courts that GMR’s termination of its contract with Alpha MVKB Duty-Free was lawful.

The High Court noted that GMR gave notice on March 1 and, as per the agreement, the contract terminated on March 31. As no party could extend the termination notice, the court concluded that MVK had no right to remain at the airport without approval from GMR. Alpha MVKB was originally leased for 10 years under an agreement between MVK and Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL), with a one month termination clause, the court noted.


Male’ bus service bids open to four groups

MVK Maldives, Shiyam Auto Garage, AK Construction and MVK’s Ahmed Nazim have shown interest in providing bus service to Male’, the city council has announced.

City Council will accept bids for the project today, December 15, from the four groups exclusively, Haveeru reports. The parties are required to present a Rf500,000 (US$33,300) guarantee at the time of bidding.

The council will evaluate bids according to the parties’ demonstration of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and its commitment to renewable energy.

Previously, Male’ bus service was operated by MVK Maldives for a trial period. The agreement covering the trial service expired this month.

MVK has been requested to continue service until a party is selected and an agreement reached.