Customs, MPL extend working hours

Workers lean against containers at the Male' Commercial Harbor on April 5, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Maldives Customs Service and Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) have extended service hours.

At a joint-press conference by Customs and MPL at the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) on Sunday afternoon, Deputy Commissioner of Customs Abdulla Shareef said that in the new normal, Customs’ work will be distributed into two phases.

Shareef said that from May 29 to June 5, Customs will provide most of its services, including processing documentations, through virtual platforms. It will also have a limited number of employees working in its office to conduct the work of 18 sections.

With the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Customs has been conducting work pertaining to sea cargo emigration and air cargo from 08:00 am to 09:30 pm.

Shareef said that the Customs’ harbor management section will also conduct its work when cargo clearance is required, and that the work of other sections of the service will also be need-based.

“The top priority at present is to complete the documentation and clearance of essential cargo imported into Maldives as soon as possible. While this may be the standard working hours, we will work after hours to clear shipments that require immediate attention,” said Shareef, who has been serving as the head of Customs since death of the late Commissioner of Customs Ahmed Numan.

He said that shipments of products needed for the battle to curb the coronavirus outbreak will be cleared as soon as possible.

MPL’s CEO Shahid Ali said at the press conference that MPL’s employees will work in two shifts from 07:30 am to 11:00 pm starting June 1.

The company will provide cargo clearance services, and services at the Male’ Commercial Harbor and the Hulhumale’ Terminal from 08:00 am to 09:00 pm.

Shahid noted that MPL employees had worked under lockdown at the office with the emergence of the community spread in Male’ City, but have now been allowed to go home.

The arrangement follows the government’s decision to ease the restrictions in place in the capital to promote economic activity.

Shahid said that payments to MPL can now be made virtually, and that the physical exchange of documents is not required from any customers, except those who come to collect shipments.

He said that the lockdown had resulted in a backlog of shipments which have yet to be cleared, but that the company expected to be able to clear the backlog with the ease in restrictions. MPL will resume charging demurrage fees on June 11.