Court ends hearing on Thilafushi reclamation case

The Civil Court has concluded hearings over the Thilafushi development project, which was awarded to Heavy Load Maldives by Thilafushi Corporation Limited (TCL).

Heavy Load is owned by ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik.

The ACC had previously noted the US$21 million project was not awarded with the advice of the TCL board and was in violation of the government-owned company’s operating procedures.

TCL’s lawyer Mazlan Rasheed claimed that the ACC had ordered TCL to stop the project without carrying out any investigation, Haveeru reports.

Rasheed further claimed that the ACC violated legal requirements by not issuing a formal report.

ACC’s lawyer and the former attorney general Aishath Azima Shakoor countered that TCL disobeyed the ACC’s order and continued with the project.

Shakoor added that the ACC had issued its order after finding evidence that TCL had violated the law in 10 separate counts when awarding the project to Heavy Load, therefore the ACC had been within its rights to issue the order.

Judge Abdulla Ali presided over the case. The final verdict will be released during the next court session, reports Haveeru.


Thilafushi tenants owe US$880,000 in back rent, says TCL

Tilafushi Corporation Limited (TCL) is currently not leasing any land plots on Thilafushi island to new applicants, says Chief Executive Officer of TCL Mohamed Zahir, because they are inundated with applications.

Meanwhile almost a fifth of the plots already allocated are lying idle, while some tenants have failed to pay rent to the tune of (US$882,000).

The 100 percent government-owned company is responsible for managing and developing Thilafushi island, formerly known as Thilafalhu lagoon. Reclamation of the lagoon began in 1992 in order to solve the waste management problems from garbage generated in Malé.

Other industry workers, such as brick makers, were leased land plots in Thilafushi by the previous government, and new applications for land plots are constantly coming in to TCL.

“We have decided there is no intention to give land [to new applicants],” Zahir said, but added that “the board has decided to give land to those who applied before 31 December 2009.”

TCL received 84 claims for land plots before the end of 2009, and Zahir said these plots will “hopefully” be allocated to the claimants this year.

“There is a lot of interest in the market,” Zahir said, “we have to do something. We have no proper industry and people are still demanding [land].”

Zahir said they are re-planning Thilafushi by building timber outlets, garages and workshops, and the land plots which are to be leased should be ready within the year.

He said there are currently 256 lots under lease, but “fifty or sixty of them are not working at all.”

Zahir added that some of the people who had land plots allocated to them had not yet moved from Malé to Thilafushi and the corporation has asked them to move to Thilafushi by September 2010.

Zahir added that “some of the tenants [who were given land by the previous government] have not paid their rent up to April 2009,” money which he claimed adds up to a total of Rf11.3 million (US$882,000).

“These people have to pay,” Zahir said, but noted that the TCL has only been collecting rent money since April 2009.

He said the tenants who owe TCL rent money “say they will pay.”

The TCL is also hoping to reclaim an additional 19 million square metres of land by mid-2010.

Zahir added that the statements of their intention to lease land without announcing it in today’s article on Haveeru were “all wrong” and their intention is to further develop the island before considering new applications for land.