Government to Press Claims Against MM Export Over Fines of Fushi Dhiggaru Reef

15 May 2023 | 09:47
MM Exports Barge

The Maldivian government has filed claims against MM Export, an Indian company, seeking a payment of 110 million rufiyaa in fines. These fines were imposed eight years ago in 2015 when a barge owned by the Indian company collided with the reef of K. Fushi Dhiggaru.

Despite multiple extensions granted, MM Exports, a company with a track record of their tugs and barges getting stranded on reefs, has failed to fulfill their obligation of paying the fines. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ministry of Environment have formally requested that the company settle the outstanding fines.

Consequently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken further action by urging the Attorney General's office to pursue legal charges against MM Exports. An official from the Attorney General's office confirmed to "Mihaaru" that the case was forwarded to the civil court in December for prosecution related to the aforementioned matter.

"The current information indicates that the party facing charges is being afforded an opportunity to prepare for the legal proceedings," stated an official from the Attorney General's office.

The incident involving MM Exports' stranded barge resulted in damage to an estimated area of 4,370 acre meters on the Fushi Dhiggaru reef.

Earlier this month, a tug boat and a barge belonging to MM Exports became stranded on the reef of Haa Alif Atoll Dhihdhoo. While the barge was successfully retrieved, assistance from a Maldivian boat was required to rescue the stranded tug boat. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that a team will be dispatched to assess the extent of the damage caused by the incident.

In 2014, another boat belonging to MM Exports got stranded on the Thilafushi reef. Following an evaluation of the damage caused, the company initially faced charges of 22 million rufiyaa. However, upon the company's request, the fine was subsequently reduced to 2.8 million rufiyaa.

An ongoing issue involving AFCONS, another Indian company, has also been in the spotlight. During the construction of the Malé-Villimalé bridge, a bridge platform belonging to AFCONS became stranded on the Villimale reef. As a result, AFCONS was charged 69 million rufiyaa for the incident. However, the company failed to make the payment, leading to the matter being escalated to Environment Minister Aminath Shauna. 

Although the issue was brought up during a recent parliamentary session, the Minister clarified that the government had no intentions of waiving the fines.