UPDATED: Maldives Government ignores court order over airport contract

By Charlotte Turner |

The Maldives government (GoM) has decided to ignore a Singapore court order awarded to GMR infrastructure after the Maldives government attempted to cancel its $511 million airport development contract.

 

Mohamed Nazim, Defence Minister and Acting Transport Minister, addressed the press, in Male, today.”We will continue the airport takeover and Inshallah next Saturday onwards, MACL (state-controlled Maldives Airport Company) will be running the airport.”

 

India’s GMR Male’ International Airport Pvt. Ltd. (GMIAL) is a joint venture company comprising GMR Infrastructure Limited (GIL) (77%) and Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad (MAHB) ( 23%). In 2010, GMIAL won the right to build and operate the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) for 25 years [extendable by another 10 years – Ed].

 

On 27 November, the Government of Maldives [GoM] issued a notice to the GMR Male’ International Airport Ltd [GMIAL] intending to take over the possession and control of the Ibrahim Nassir International Airport [INIA] –  under the pretext that the Agreement is void – in what GMR classed as “a unilateral and completely irrational move.”

 

Situated on Hulhule Island in the Maldives at the South western tip of India, INIA is “one of the fastest growing airports in the region”, according to GMR.

 

FUTURE FOREIGN INVESTMENT

“If they don’t comply (with the stay order), the Maldives will no longer be respected as upholding its obligations under international law, which will be very detrimental to future foreign investment,” Fayyaz Ismail, a lawyer for GMR told Reuters. “Hopefully they will be reasonable.”

 

GMIAL hoped that with the stay order awarded, it would be able to continue operations at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport as usual as per the provisions of the Concession Agreement.

 

In 2010 GMR – MAHB consortium emerged successful amongst the shortlisted six parties in the Male’ Airport privatization global bid process managed by IFC, an arm of World Bank.

 

“Our plan envisages to develop a 0.6 million sq ft state-of-the-art integrated world class passenger terminal increasing the terminal capacity to handle 5.5 mn passengers pa and a 20,000 sq ft VIP terminal, apart from landside development and improving existing terminal, to enhance passenger comfort and services,” says GMR.

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