Newport ordered to vacate premises, pay over MVR 1 million

An aerial shot of Newport View and the bridge-viewing platform run by Strada Private Limited in Lonuziyaaraih Kolhu, Male' City. (File Photo/Strada)

Civil Court has ordered Strada Private Limited to hand over the land leased from Lonuziyaaraih Kolhu to run its restaurant chain, Newport, back to the Maldivian government, and settle over MVR 1 million in accrued lease payments and damages.

Strada and Planning Ministry had signed the lease agreement for the land in 2016. But the lease agreement terminated by the Planning Ministry over breach of contract citing failure to pay lease and fines on March 7, 2019.

The Civil Court, in its ruling this Thursday, noted that Strada had relinquished its rights to the land the moment the agreement was terminated, but had continued to use the land for commercial benefit.

It established that Strada must settle MVR 1.15 million in accrued lease payments and damages incurred up until February 27 within the next 15 days, and settle additional lease payments and fines incurred after the date to up until it vacates the land and hands it over to the Planning Ministry within 30 days.

The lease payments, fines and damages need to be paid to Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA).

Strada had been served 30-day notice to vacate the land on March 10, but had continued to operate Newport View for months after notice period expired before closing it down.

Planning Ministry has announced it plans to develop a public space on the land.

Strada had been awarded the land during former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s administration when it was managed by Zahid Rameez – former PPM council member.

Zahid resigned from Strada shortly after Yameen’s defeat in the presidential elections in 2018, and parted ways with PPM following Yameen’s arrest for money laundering.

Former council member of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Zahid Rameez. (Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

Strada, after the Maldivian administration demolished its beverage outlet, Chai Time, in Lonuziyaaraih Kolhu, asked the State for MVR 14.4 million in compensation. However, release of compensation money was put on hold at the instructions of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

Strada’s restaurant chain, Newport, had also been under investigation by the ACC over the award of contract to prepare the banquet to celebrate Maldives’ 50th Independence Day. ACC had forwarded the case to the Prosecutor General’s Office for criminal charges, but the Prosecutor General’s Office decided not to pursue charges.