K. Male' | 03-April-2018 | Tuesday 23:32 | Report | 2,726
The government has recently restricted the transportation of goods in the capital to between 6pm and 6am in an attempt to ease traffic congestion during the day, but there has been debate as to how effective the new changes are to Malé, one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
The new rules caused porters to strike near Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) for a few days. They argue that they already have to work 17-hr shifts when taking into account the time needed to release the goods from Customs and MPL. Having to work during the night would mean they would have to work even longer hours and miss time with their families and other activities. Businessmen also complained that they had been unable to clear their goods due to the strike. Others have said that their workers have left due to the changes and that they have been so far unable to discuss the situation with the ruling party.
According to the Transport Authority, the restrictions applies to the transportation conducted by wholesalers and retailers, as well as the transport of construction material. But the new regulations also allow gas delivery from 8:30am to 11am.
Despite the complaints, authorities remain optimistic. Deputy minister at the econonic ministry, Adam Thaufeeg, announced plans to allow 24-hour businesses. Adam Thaufeeq also said that the opening hours of petrol sheds and restaurants were extended to 12am and 1am respectively, for the convenience of porters working the nightshift. He said that the government always works to give citizens the necessary conveniences, and is working to allow 24hr stores after establishing regulations. During President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration, authorities issued permits for 24 hour businesses, but the practice was banned by Nasheed’s successor President Mohamed Waheed in 2012.
Male’ City Mayor Maryam Shifa has said that both the porters and businesses have raised concerns over the difficulty of transporting goods during the night time. She said that such a drastic change should have been discussed before being implemented, as it was obvious it would have a major impact to Male’ City businesses.
Both Shifa and businessmen have said that the slow-down in transportation would lead to scarcity of products in the market, meaning a hike in prices. A price-hike in food products such as onions and potatoes would create difficulties for households, especially during the upcoming month of Ramadan, the businesses said.
Around 300 Maldivians are estimated to be working as porters. While some have met with Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) officials to discuss changes to their working schedule, so far there has been no response. but after the porters’ demands to allow authorities to let them work in the day were not met, they had stopped their strike and doubled the prices of their services. Afterwards, the economic ministry threatened to penalize any business that hike their product prices.
While the changes have caused difficulties for businesses and workers, it seems to have eased some of the congestion during the daytime. Only time will tell if this has a lasting beneficial outcome for ordinary citizens.
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