Five of the 16 sniffer dogs for the newly established “Faaragema” dog squad arrived in the Maldives last night.
According to the Maldives Police Services, a Dutch and a British dog trainer accompanied the first batch of dogs and will train police officers in handling the dogs.
The dogs were due to arrive the previous night, but their arrival was delayed after the handlers deemed the journey from the Netherlands was too long for the puppies. They were then quarantined in Malaysia.
Five more puppies will arrive tonight and the remaining six are to arrive tomorrow night.
The dogs were brought in to tackle drug trafficking in the Maldives, and are going to be kept in custom made kennels at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.
Speaking to local media, Home Ministry’s spokersperson Thazmeel Abdul Samad said that the dogs and the kennel had cost the government US$ 80,000.
The Home Ministry has meanwhile requested the Dhivehi Language Academy to come up with 16 Dhivehi names for the puppies.
The Maldivian government has signed a contract with Dutch Docklands of the Netherlands to develop a floating golf course and hotel in the Maldives.
Minister of Trade and Economy Mohamed Rasheed signed the contract on behalf of the Maldives, and Chief Executive Officer Wen Di Cam signed on behalf of Dutch Docklands.
President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed and Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Maldives Leoni Margaretha Cuelenaere attended the ceremony held at the President’s Office on 4 March when the agreement was signed.
Cam said the Docklands was proud to develop the floating centres in the Maldives and the company would seek a good location for the development.
He said the company would start the project as soon as possible after doing the necessary studies.
Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair said the project would be “very beneficial for the country.”
He added that it would increase the number of tourists visiting the country.
”Most of our resorts do not have a golf centre due to lack of space,” Press Secretary Zuhair said, noting that ”Golf has a good market in the world.”
Deputy Minister for Environment Mohamed Shareef said the floating golf centres would be “much better and more environmentally friendly than reclaiming land.”
Shareef noted the floating developments would be stabilised by anchoring.
”It would not be very harmful for the environment,” he said, ”the only damage is that it will block the sunlight from the stones and corals.”
He added that there were showcases of floating centres made by the same company in Australia.
”They are now developing such centres in the Middle East,” said Shareef. ”We would not compromise our environment for anything.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for conducting environmental impact assessments, has not yet been consulted on the project according to its director Mohamed Zuhair.
The project would “definitely have negative environmental impacts”, he said, but added that “it is not for the EPA to assess the risks of this project at this stage. The contractor [Dutch Docklands] is responsible for finding a suitable consultant to assess the risks.”
Zuhair said once project proposal by Dutch Docklands’ is finished, it will be submitted to the EPA who will then screen the project. The EPA will then provide an environmental assessment report.
“They can only start actual work once they have EPA approval,” he noted.
Director of environmental NGO Bluepeace, Ali Rilwan, said as long as the project was conducted in an environmentally friendly manner he thought it was “very exciting” and “innovative and weird”.
“I don’t think there should be a problem,” he said, “but it depends on how they do it.”
The government has signed an agreement with Dutch Docklands of the Netherlands to develop, operate and manage water properties in the Maldives.
Dutch Docklands is a global leader in tailor-made floating developments (such as floating beaches and restaurants) using methods and procedures it claims will reduce the environmental impacts on sea-life and minimise the changes to the coast lines.
The agreement includes a floating convention centre and golf course in the Maldives.
The agreement was signed at a ceremony held at the President’s Office last Thursday afternoon.
President Mohamed Nasheed and Ambassador of the Netherlands, Mrs Leoni Margaretha Cuelenaere, were present at the ceremony.