Police disposes of 36 motorcycles

Police have disposed of 36 impounded motorcycles and six four-wheeled vehicles on Saturday (September 6) for the first time under the land vehicles law.

The vehicles were destroyed with an excavator at the Gaakoshi waste yard in Malé.

Malé City Council Director General Abdul Hameed Ali – a member of a committee formed between the council, transport authority, and police – told newspaper Haveeru that some of the vehicles disposed of yesterday included motorcycles impounded ten years ago.

Hameed said the committee hoped to dispose of vehicles in the tow yard once a month following due procedure allowing owners to reclaim the vehicles.

In July, police have announced that 722 vehicles impounded for illegal parking will be disposed of as no one has come forward to claim ownership of the vehicles.

The impounded vehicles included 156 motorcycles, 560 bicycles, and six four-wheelers (cars and pickups).

Police noted that only five vehicles were reclaimed by their owners from the tow yard following the last announcement.

Likes(0)Dislikes(0)

Government overrules city council over vehicle ban

The government has overruled a Malé City Council decision to enforce a ban on motorised vehicles from 4:00 to 7:00pm today on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr.

Transport Authority Chairman Abdul Rasheed Nafiz told local media that a number of special events had been planned in advance to take place in the capital this afternoon, which would require the use of vehicles.

Following the decision, police have also said it would not be enforcing the city council’s ban, which was announced on Wednesday (July 23).

The opposition-dominated city council has, however, urged the public to “follow our previous announcement and keep roads free of vehicles.”


Likes(0)Dislikes(0)

President Yameen abolishes Transport Ministry

President Abdulla Yameen has abolished the Ministry of Transport and Communication last week and transferred its functions to other ministries.

According to the President’s Office, “regional airports will be under the administration of the Ministry of Tourism, Transport Authority will come under Ministry of Economic Development, and Communication Authority of Maldives will be administered by Ministry of Home Affairs.”

In the wake of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives severing its coalition agreement with the Jumhooree Party last month, President Yameen dismissed Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim from the post.

Ameen had been appointed to a cabinet slot assigned for the JP under the coalition agreement signed between the parties ahead of last year’s presidential election run-off.

Likes(0)Dislikes(0)

Taxi drivers brand calls to introduce Dhivehi taxi boards “ridiculous”

The Dhivehi Language Academy has called on taxis to change their boards to read ‘Taxi’ in the Dhivehi Thaana script instead of English – a move branded “ridiculous” by drivers.

“The problem is not that ‘taxi’ is an English word,” President of the Dhivehi Language Academy Ashraf Ali explained.

“It can be a word of any language, but the law says if a word does not have a Dhivehi equivalent it should simply be written in the Thaana script. The lettering, at least, should be in Dhivehi even if the word is not,” he said.

Taxi drivers have responded with exasperation to the academy’s suggestion.

“It is a waste of money,” said Malé taxi driver Ahmed Afra. “And in any case, what difference does it make? Should we also have someone sit atop the cabs to say whether we are vacant or occupied in sign language for those who can’t read?”

“All this is reaching the ridiculous now. Like the Transport Authority says, the board suffices as a symbol of occupancy and is an added convenience to the passenger. I don’t see why the academy feels the need to complicate things further,” continued Afra.

The new signs became mandatory from May 15, after repeated delays following resistance from drivers who claimed the new regulations – which included mandatory insurance, medical checks, and regulated fares – were too strict.

The Dhivehi Academy was created under the 2011 National Language (Priority) Act and is charged with continuing the preservation and development of the language.

Ashraf has said that precedence must be given to the local language according to the law, and that therefore any English words must be printed in smaller print beneath a larger Dhivehi word.

However, Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim has told local media that the word ‘Taxi’ written on boards placed atop vehicles should not be seen as a phrase, but rather as a symbol identifying whether vehicle is vacant.

“We can use ‘Taxi’ in either manner. But in this case, we are not using ‘Taxi’ as a phrase, but rather as sign language – as a symbol. Technical persons say that it is a symbol. It is the same in almost all other countries of the world,” he is quoted as saying to local media.

Taxi drivers have said the discussion between the Transport Ministry and the Dhivehi Academy shows the state had implemented the new regulations before it was properly reviewed.

Hassan Shameel argued that the government should have to bear the cost of further changes to the signs, arguing that the transport authority should have resolved such issues before implementing the new regulations.

“Where has the Dhivehi Language Academy been all this time? It’s been an year since this was gazetted, and they snap awake after it was implemented on the 15th of this month and suddenly are concerned about the language. Why didn’t they act before?”

“In any case, if they love the language so much, why do they not notice that the schools, streets, hospitals have their names in English? Why be concerned about taxis alone?” he continued.

Academy president Ashraf stated that the intention was not to increase costs for the drivers, but to come to a reasonable solution through discussions with the Transport Authority.

“There can’t be an immediate solution, and we are aware of that. We are trying to do a sincere task here. All we want is for everyone to embrace and take pride in our individuality and national identity,” he said.

Likes(0)Dislikes(0)

Morning Star crew free to return to the Maldives after seven month wait

The crew of a Maldivian ship detained in the Indian port city of Kochi have been told they can finally return to the Maldives after a seven month wait.

The owner of the vessel, Managing Director of Mallinks Pvt Ltd Ibrahim Rasheed, had told crew members back in January that they must attempt to sell the ship or risk being stranded in India indefinitely.

MV Morning Star had been detained by Indian authorities in July 2012 after the vessel it had been towing from the Maldives sank in Indian waters.

Transport Authority Chairman Abdul Rasheed Nafiz said on Monday (March 18) that the ship had now been sold by the Indian courts and the crew will be able to return to the Maldives.

“The crew can return back any time now, but at present they are waiting to receive the money they are owed from the sale of MV Morning Star,” Nafiz said.

The Transport Authority Chairman told Minivan News earlier this year that the crew had gone without pay for over five months prior to January, and had been relying on a union in India to provide them with food.

“The same union is taking care of the crew at the moment whilst they wait for their pay,” Nafiz confirmed today.

Following the sinking of the vessel back in July, a ruling by the Indian Judiciary stated that the ship, along with the crew, would not be allowed to sail out of the port until the sunken vessel had been salvaged.

The ship’s crew had been advised by Rasheed in January to sell the vessel as he could not personally afford to pay for their return.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Rasheed confirmed that the Indian courts had reached a verdict to sell the vessel for US$165,000.

“The captain and crew of the ship can deduct their salaries from the sale of the ship. I spoke to the captain yesterday (March 17) and he told me he will pay the crew,” Rasheed said.

“The unions who helped support the crew will also be able to take their share of owed money,” he added.

Rasheed previously claimed that MV Morning Star would have been able to sail out of the port had the sunken vessel – MV Sea Angel – been salvaged.

According to Rasheed, both ships had been insured by Allied insurance and it had been the insurance company’s responsibility to salvage the sunken ship.

“We had fully insured both ships. The insurance company gave us a wage policy and in the policy they have written, ‘within 40 days we have to sail the vessels’, which we did.

“The insurance company needs to take responsibility, but they are saying no,” Rasheed said back in January.

MV Morning Star had been towing MV Sea Angel to a port in India for it to be scrapped, however just eight miles from Kochi, the 26 metre vessel began to sink.

Speaking today, Rasheed said that he had now filed a case against Allied Insurance, and is currently waiting for the next hearing to be scheduled in court.

Likes(0)Dislikes(0)

Morning Star crew told to sell ship or be stranded “forever”: Mallinks Managing Director

The owner of a Maldivian ship detained in the Indian Port City of Kochi for the last five months has told the crew they must sell the vessel or they be stranded in India “forever”.

Crew members aboard the MV Morning Star have been left stranded in the country after the ship they were towing from the Maldives – MV Sea Angel – sank in Indian waters.

Following the sinking of the vessel, the Indian Environmental Authority launched a probe into the incident and detained the MV Morning Star, local media reported.

According to the Transport Authority, the crew have also gone without pay for the last five months and are relying on a local union in India to provide them with food.

MV Morning Star’s owner, Managing Director of Mallinks Pvt Ltd Ibrahim Rasheed, told Minivan News that the crew and captain of the MV Morning Star would not be allowed to sail out of the port until the sunken vessel is salvaged, in accordance to a ruling by the Indian Judiciary.

“There is nothing I can do now. It is up to the insurance company to salvage the sunken ship, but they are saying they will not do that. I don’t have the money to do it myself, I am not the World Bank.

“I have told the captain to sell the ship as it is the only option now. With the money they can pay the crew salary and return to the Maldives. If they don’t they will be stuck in India for 3 years or five years or forever because I cannot afford to pay their return,” Rasheed said.

Despite Rasheed’s proposal, Transport Authority Chairman Abdul Rasheed Nafiz claimed that to “simply sell the ship” was not an easy procedure as there are regulations that have to be adhered to with Indian and Maldivian maritime authorities.

“This is a very sad story for the crew. I have spoken to their families and they are relying on them [the crew] to provide money for children’s books, rent and bills. However, [the crew] have not received any payment,” Nafiz told Minivan News.

“[The Transport Authority] are working with our legal team to determine what type of action can be taken against the owners of the ship. These people are blaming the insurance company, then the insurance company are blaming the owners; it goes around in a circle.

Both of the vessels owned by Mallinks Pvt Ltd are insured by Allied Insurance, according to Rasheed.

Under the insurance policy, Rasheed claimed that Allied Insurance was required to salvage the sunken vessel, and that it was their failure to do so that has kept the crew unpaid in India for so long.

“We had fully insured both ships. The insurance company gave us a wage policy and in the policy they have written, ‘within 40 days we have to sail the vessels’, which we did.

“The insurance company needs to take responsibility, but they are saying no, so I will file a case at court,” Rasheed alleged.

MV Morning Star had been towing MV Sea Angel to a port in India for it to be scrapped, however just eight miles from Kochi, the 26 metre vessel began to sink.

According the ship’s captain, Hussain Ali, the crew were becoming “more and more depressed” with the situation and are yet to receive any help from the Maldivian government.

Rasheed said he had paid the crew two out of the five months they had been in India, claiming that he did not have the money to pay the full amount.

He further claimed it had been Ali’s fault that the MV Sea Angel had sunk, and that Indian courts had declared the sinking was due to Ali acting with “negligence” and “harassment of navigation”.

“At the end of all of this, this is my loss. my ship will be lost because of the captain. It was his fault the MV Sea Angel sank,” Rasheed claimed.

“The captain has already filed a case against me with the International Transport Workers Federation,” Rasheed added.

Likes(1)Dislikes(0)

Stranded container ship in Male’ refloated: MNDF

A container ship was yesterday (Janaury 7) stranded in waters on the eastern side of Male’ for three hours before tug boats were able to successfully refloat the vessel, local media has reported.

Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem told Minivan News last night that the ship, called Auguste Schulte, sailed under a Liberian flag.

The MNDF told local media that while the ship itself did not suffer much damage from the incident, investigations would be carried out on the reef where the boat had been stuck.

Should any damage be found on the reef, a fine of MVR 85,000 (US$ 5508) per square metre of damaged reef will be imposed, an official from the Transport Authority told the Sun Online news agency.

Likes(0)Dislikes(0)

Transport Authority reaches compromise with taxi drivers

Officials from the Transport Authority met taxi and pickup drivers on Monday and reached a compromise over new regulations on fines for illegally parked vehicles.

Sun Online reported that the Transport Authority has decided that stickers would not be issued for vehicles parked in areas that does not inconvenience the public. However, stickers would be placed on vehicles parked in front of hospitals, schools, mosques and private residences.

Transport Authority Chairman Abdul Rasheed Nafiz reportedly told the taxi drivers that designating parking zones was the responsibility of the Male’ City Council.

On the taxi drivers’ complaint over insurance fees (MVR 1000), Nafiz said only parliament could change the amounts specified in law.

Taxi and pickup drivers went on strike and protested on Monday morning following the Transport Ministry’s decision to enforce the new regulations.

The taxi drivers noted that there were no parking zones in the capital for taxis and pickups.

“There is no room to park cars. If we park the car for breakfast, there will be a sticker. There will be a sticker for afternoon and evening, we will have to spend a lot of money,” a taxi driver involved in organising the protest told newspaper Haveeru.

According to the Transport Authority, stickers issued on illegally parked cars will carry a fine of MVR 250 (US$16) for the first, MVR 500 (US$32) for the second and MVR 750 (US$48) for each following sticker.

Likes(0)Dislikes(0)

Taxi drivers to strike over decision to fine illegally parked vehicles

Taxi drivers across Male are set to go on strike on Monday in protest of the Transport Ministry’s decision to issue stickers on illegally parked vehicles.

Abdulla Ibrahim, who is leading the protest, highlighted the lack of parking spaces in the capital, alleging the government is going ahead with the idea without a proper plan.

According to Mr Ibrahim, taxi centres will not accept the Transport Ministry’s decision to issue stickers under the current circumstances.

Speaking to Haveeru Online, he said: “There is no room to park cars. If we park the car for breakfast, there will be a sticker. There will be a sticker for afternoon and evening, we will have to spend a lot of money.

“We will gather at Raalhugandu Area and from there we will go to the Transport Ministry with posters and banners.”

9292 Taxi Centre has said that four pickup centres and nine taxi centres will participate in the protest.

According to the Transport Authority, stickers issued on illegally parked cars will carry a fine of MVR 250 (US$16) for the first, MVR 500 (US$32) for the second and MVR 750 (US$48) for each following sticker.

Likes(0)Dislikes(0)