Malé pedestrianised zones to be piloted on February 15

A pilot project to establish vehicle-free zones in the capital Malé will be introduced on February 15, authorities have revealed.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure and the Transport Authority of Maldives, housing minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu said the scheme will see the closure of Heena Goalhi and Raiyvilla Magu in Henveiru ward to vehicles, including bicycles.

“We will also establish special parking zones for people from houses on these roads, special permits will be given to them to park in these parking zones”, Muizzu explained.

President Abdulla Yameen has previously pledged to ban traffic in narrow lanes in Malé in order to ease congestion in the densely crowded city of 130,000 people, allowing space for children to play.

Transport Authority chairman Abdul Rasheed Nafiz said that the measures would need to go hand-in-hand with a reduction in the number of vehicles in order to find long-term solutions to traffic congestion.

Although the government has not finalised the measures, Nafiz said that current proposals included the halting of vehicle registration renewal for vehicles older than 15 or 20 years, with new vehicle registration open only allowed as older vehicles are taken out of use.

“The new slots will go to the highest bidder. We think this is the most fair manner in which we can do this,” Nafiz said.

Muizz today noted that a ministry survey had shown that some areas involved in the pedestrianisation scheme have storage facilities and garages, but that those businesses will be required to load and unload goods by parking outside the pedestrianised areas.

People who park their two wheeled vehicles inside their homes will be allowed to walk their vehicles to the houses inside the no-vehicle areas.

“Physical obstructions will be put in place and traffic police will be monitoring the area to ensure vehicles do not enter. We will ensure there is enough space for wheelchairs and such,” said Muizzu.

According to the ministry, the pilot project will continue with the closure of more roads in all wards along with Henveiru – including Galolhu, Machchangoalhi and Maafannu – until June 8.

Nafiz explained that the stickers assigned to vehicle owners of the residences in the pedestrianized zones will be given free of charge and must be displayed.


President Yameen dismisses transport authority chairman, state minister for home affairs

President Abdulla Yameen dismissed Transport Authority Chairman Abdul Rasheed Nafiz and State Minister for Home Affairs Abdulla Mohamed last week, local media reports.

Both men were appointed during the previous administration of President Dr Mohamed Waheed and retained under the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) government.

Nafiz – a PPM member – told online news outlet CNM that he was informed that the new government would make senior-level changes before the end of January in line with an agreement on political appointments among coalition parties.

Nafiz was the spokesperson of President Waheed’s campaign last year.

State Minister Abdulla Mohamed is meanwhile a candidate for the Nolhivaram constituency in the upcoming parliamentary elections.


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.


80 percent of land vehicles insured

The Transport Ministry has revealed that 80 percent of land vehicles have been insured following an announcement of a requirement for third party insurance, reports Sun Online.

Transport Authority Chairman Abdul Rasheed Nafiz explained that 20 percent of registered land vehicles remained uninsured due to lack of documents.

Owners of uninsured vehicles are being fined MVR 750 under the current regulations, Nafiz said.

The insurance premiums are divided into four categories, based on the type of vehicle: MVR 150 for 50cc motorcycles; MVR 175 for 50Ccc to 250cc motorcycles; MVR400 for over 250cc motorcycles; MVR750 for private cars; MVR1,000 for taxis; MVR1,500 for leased vehicles; and MVR2,000 for vehicles used for other purposes.

Companies that provide third-party insurance in the Maldives are Ceylinco Insurance, Allied Insurance, Amana Takaful and Sri Lankan Insurance.