Man on diplomatic motorcycle without regulatory helmet sparks debate

Motorcyclists wear helmets in a rally held in Male' City to raise awareness on road safety on February 1, 2019. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

People wait for traffic lights to turn green at Male’ City - Hulhumale’- Hulhule’ junction. Everyone on motorcycles are wearing their regulatory helmets, except for one man wearing a suit on the passenger seat of a motorcycle wearing diplomatic license plates. A policeman waits on his motorcycle beside the man.

An amendment to Section I of the Regulation on Speed Limit for Land Vehicles – which kicked-in on March 10 – makes it compulsory for people travelling via motorcycle on streets and areas with a speed limit exceeding 30 km/h to wear helmets.

The Sinamale’ Bridge and Hulhumale’ Highway which connects Male’ City, Hulhumale’ and Hulhule’ has a speed limit of 25-50 km/h.

Though penalties for violation of the helmet regulation will kick-in on April 1, Traffic Police are stationed at the entry/exit points of Sinamale’ Bridge and the Hulhumale’ Highway to turn away any person who isn’t wearing the regulatory helmet.

The picture of a man on a diplomatic motorcycle without the regulatory helmet, which was shared over the social media last Monday, sparked controversy.

Criticism was especially directed at Maldives Police Service over why anyone without the regulatory helmet was allowed access to the bridge, and the seeming nonchalance of the police officer captured in the picture with the man.

It also sparked a debate over double standards.

A media official from Maldives Police Service reported the picture has been brought to the attention of the agency. He said any traffic violations by diplomatic vehicles are dealt with through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.