Former political appointees and staff of abolished Transport Ministry to be transferred

Political appointees from the defunct Transport Ministry have been moved to other departments.

Civil Service Commission Secretary General Mohamed Faizal has confirmed that none of the civil servants who worked there would lose their jobs.

“We are currently in the process of transferring them to the ministries to which the departments they served under have been delegated. They will be getting their salaries without interruption even while we are working on the transfers,” Faizal explained.

Faizal stated that the staff do not have a say regarding which ministry they are transferred to, and that the commission will instead be transferring them to whichever ministry is currently delegated with running their previous department.

According to him, no changes will be brought to their posts or salaries as a result of the change.

Former Ministers of State for Transport and Communication Abdul Latheef Mohamed and Mohamed Anees have been appointed to the same posts at the Ministry of Economic Development, the President’s Office has revealed.

Their colleague, Minister of State Mohamed Ibrahim, has also been transferred to the same post at the Ministry of Environment and Energy.

Meanwhile, the removal of Deputy Transport Minister Ikram Hassan and Executive Coordinator Mohamed Azeem have been announced today. Three other deputy ministers were also removed from their posts with the abolition of the ministry on June 19.

Work conducted at the ministry has since been delegated to other ministries and institutions.

The Regional Airports Department has been transferred to the Ministry of Tourism, while the Transport Authority has been transferred to the Ministry of Economic Development.

The Communications Authority of Maldives was transferred under the Ministry of Home Affairs, although a number of other functions formerly fulfilled by the Transport Ministry have been delegated to the Environment, Home, Economic Development and Finance ministries.

Following the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives severing its coalition agreement with the Jumhooree Party(JP) in May, President Abdulla Yameen dismissed Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim – who was filling a JP cabinet slot – from the post.


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.


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.


Transport Minister requests audits of commercial harbours following fatal accident

The Minister of Transport Ameen Ibrahim has requested audits of the infrastructure and operations of all commercial harbours in the Maldives, following the  fatal accident at Malé’s main port on Monday (April 7).

According to local media, Ameen sent a memo requesting to conduct audits of all commercial harbours in the country within three months, and to take measures without delay to address issues based on recommendations in the audit reports.

The minister also asked Transport Authority to carry out a thorough investigation of the accident and send the investigation report as soon as possible.

Last night (April 8) Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed met with the families of the two men who died in the accident.

The government has decided to pay the salaries of the deceased to their families until the children turn 18, as well as giving MVR 50,000 to each of the families as compensation.


Taxis notified to fit vacancy signs by April 15

The Transport Authority of Maldives has notified taxis to place a sign on top of the car to indicate vacancy to passengers before April 15 2014, reported local media Sun Online.

“The light-up taxi boards have to fit the authority’s standards. Places producing or selling these taxi boards will have a special permit issued by this authority,” Sun Online reported the authority as saying.

Taxi regulations, published on 16 December 2013, imposed fixed taxi fees of MVR25 per trip between 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m. and MVR30 per trip between 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.

In addition to these regulations, taxi drivers are obligated to have on display their name and the contact details of their taxi centres.


Police to invalidate roadworthiness of vehicles that do not meet standards

The police have today said that they will start a special operation from January 1 to check vehicles to see if they meet the standards set by the Transport Ministry and invalidate the roadworthiness of vehicles that do not meet the standards.

In a statement issued today the police said that vehicles that do not meet the standards can only drive after correcting the issues with their vehicles.

Police said that the operation will be conducted in accordance with regulations made to test roadworthiness of vehicles made under the Act number 5/2009 Motor Vehicle Act.

According to the statement, during the operation police will check if the brakes work properly, if the silencer is modified to make loud noises, if the rear mirrors are installed and if all the lights work properly.

Police also said that they will invalidate the roadworthiness of vehicles that have black smoke coming out from the exhaust, vehicles that have installed loud sound producing tools, vehicles that have installed extra lights other than the ones that are there when the vehicle was bought, vehicles that have changed the colors of lights that are stated in the laws to be in a specific color and vehicles that leak oil.

Furthermore, the police reminded all drivers to see if their vehicles meet the roadworthiness standards required by the transport ministry.

Police have been advising drivers of vehicles that do not meet the standards to correct them during the traffic operations police have been conducting, the police added.

Police stated that the objective of the operation to check the roadworthiness of vehicles was to ensure the citizens that the roads are safe.

In the statement the police thanked all the citizens for their cooperation to police.


Koodoo Fisheries to provide ferry service in Huvadhu atoll

Government-owned fisheries company Koodoo has been tasked with providing ferry services in Gaaf Alif and Gaaf Dhaal atolls on a temporary basis, according to local media reports.

In March 2013, the transport ministry terminated an agreement with Trinus-CAE Holdings Pvt Ltd to provide public transport in the two atolls following interruptions in the service.

The private company was contracted to provide ferry services in November 2009 under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) policy of the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government.

A nationwide transport network was one of five main pledges of the previous government.

In October 2012, the MDP-majority Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Council accused Trinus-CAE of ceasing ferry services and asked the transport ministry to cancel the agreement with the company.

The council said in a statement at the time that it was receiving a number of complaints from citizens inconvenienced by the unavailability of ferry services.

“The council believes that since the company that provides this service in the atoll has been given an uninhabited island [under the PPP programme] and continues to reap benefits from the island, the public should receive adequate services,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, Deputy Director at the Transport Ministry Abdulla Shakeeb told newspaper Haveeru today that ferry services will resume on Saturday (June 22) with five boats and the same ticket prices of MVR 25 for inter-atoll transport and MVR 50 between the two atolls.

Shakeeb said the government would make an announcement in the near future seeking a party to offer ferry services in the two southern atolls. He added that the ministry expected the bidding process to be completed in the next six months.

According to Sun Online, Deputy Transport Mahdhy Imad said at a ceremony held today to sign the agreement with Koodoo that the government would cover the cost of providing the service if the fisheries company was unable to do so. The government would however not provide any finances for Koodoo to commence the ferry service, he added.


Government to cancel agreements with companies providing inadequate ferry services

Ferry companies failing to provide proper services in atolls across the Maldives are to have their contracts with the Transport Authority cancelled, local media has reported.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday (January 20), Acting Transport Minister Mohamed Nazim told members of the press that the companies assigned with providing a transport system in the Maldives are not the most suitable for the task.

“Presently, seven companies have been contracted under the project of connecting the islands of Maldives through a transport system. Out of them, services to some areas by some companies are poor and suspended,” Nazim was quoted as saying by local media.

Problems with the ferry system have resulted in numerous complaints by the public, according to Sun Online.


Maldivian ship’s captain threatened with drowning over unpaid salaries: crew member

Indian crew members aboard a Maldivian cargo vessel docked in Dubai have threatened to drown the ship’s captain over unpaid salaries, fellow workers have alleged in local media.

Six of the Maldivian crew aboard the Waadhee Progress vessel, currently docked at a harbour in Dubai, claim to have been continuously threatened by Indian crew members for the past three months.

A crew member told the Sun Online news agency yesterday (January 4) that the foreign nationals working on the ship were unhappy with the situation as they had not been paid for an entire year.

The crew member further alleged that the foreign crew had threatened to drown the ship’s captain if the alleged issue of outstanding salaries were not paid by the end of today (January 5).

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that authorities were looking into the matter, but had received little information on the vessel’s situation at present.

A crew member working aboard the Waadhee Progress has told local media that due to the vessel’s current location, it was hard to clarify the exact situation on-board.

He further alleged that an assault between the foreign crew on a previous occasion had left a fellow employee with stab wounds.

“We also haven’t received our salaries for as long as [the foreign crew]. They are threatening us. They carry knives and iron bars. The last thing they said was that the captain will be drowned if the salaries are not paid by the end of tomorrow,” the Maldivian crew member claimed.

“We are scared, haven’t even been sleeping. The company has said that they have contacted the coast guard and the police and they are looking into it. But we are still in the same situation. We have, sort of, been hijacked.”

Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem said that the country’s coastguard had received no information regarding the incident at present.

“This matter will probably be taken up by the respective foreign ministries in Dubai and Maldives. I should imagine the Transport Ministry will also be looking into the matter,” Raheem told Minivan News.

The Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) was not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.

State Transport Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said that he was still involved in “airport matters” when contacted today, and was unable to comment on the issue, forwarding Minivan News to other sources in the ministry.

Meanwhile, an official from Waadhee Shipping and Trading – the company who own Waadhee Progress – told local media that the company had been informed of the situation and were looking into it.

Minivan News was awaiting a response from the company at time of press.