Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim has handed over 300 housing units to soldiers and pledged to build 300 additional units in a bid to improve military welfare.
“These 300 flats are the beginning of improvements to military welfare. We have planned to begin a similar project next year,” Nazim said at a special ceremony at the military headquarters on Sunday (October 12) .
Noting that most of the 3000 strong Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) are from the atolls, Nazim said providing housing and establishing gym facilities in the northern, central, and southern commands are his top priorities.
The minister revealed new plans to commercialise military services, including services at the Uthuru Thilafalhu naval base and the services of the MNDF’s Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (EME) unit.
The Uthuru Thila Falhu naval base, currently under construction, includes a dockyard, slipway, warehouse, and bunkering facilities and is an “initiative to end military dependence for welfare on state budget”, Nazim said.
“Through SIWEC we will open up these facilities to the public, and this venture will become the means for funds for military welfare.”
SIWEC or Sifainge Welfare Company is a joint venture company established in 2012 by MNDF’s cooperative society SIFCO and the government to invest in and operate businesses.
SIWEC is currently developing the military training island at Thamburudhoo into a boutique surf hotel to generate funds for military welfare.
SIFCO meanwhile provides catering services, military shops with subsidised goods and runs the military hospital Senahiya.
The commercialisation of military hospital services to the public will allow SIFCO to provide loans to soldiers through its profits, Nazim said.
He went on to reveal plans to construct new accommodation blocks, a new mosque, and a sauna within the military headquarters at Bandaara Koshi as well as the renovation of the defense building.
The Coastguard Marine Corps Composite Training Center that would “revolutionise” military training will be completed in early January, Nazim also said.
Late last year, the defence minister announced a new strategic action plan for the force which involved the introduction of an MNDF TV station – Addana TV (Shield TV), and the upgrading of Senahiya hospital, as well as measures to secure independent sources of revenue.
In addition to handover of flats, the MNDF has this week unveiled its new digital camouflage uniform, The new digital pattern would provide tactical advantages in war and is designed from a temperature sensitive special fabric.
“I believe soldiers must improve their military proficiency as they start to wear this advanced uniform,” Nazim said.
The minister called on the military to remain steadfast to Islam, maintain military discipline and warned of “harsh action” against any soldiers who violated military codes.
He praised the MNDF’s involvement in peacetime activities such as in the construction of futsal fields in the Maldives atolls and in the construction of the Malé – Hulhumalé bridge replica.
There are four upcoming military exercises within the year with India, Sri Lankan and American soldiers, he noted, adding that the Defense Ministry is looking into purchasing tools to increase operational capabilities such as fast interceptor vessels, ROVs, drones, and rapid intervention vehicles.