Garage letter a ‘scam’, but govt. MPs against repeal

Nolhivaram MP Mohamed Nasheed Abdulla. (Photo/People's Majlis)

While some parliamentarians agreed the requirement of a garage letter for registration of four-wheeled vehicles in Male’ City was a scam, government parliamentarians expressed opposition to repealing garage letter requirement and allowing unrestricted import of vehicles into the congested Maldivian capital.

The bill to repeal the provision on the Land Transport Act was submitted by Nolhivaram MP Mohamed Nasheed (Mosta).

“Some people will be very distressed with this amendment. There are some people in Maldives who make their living by selling garage letters,” he said.

Mosta said that some vehicles had been registered to rooms in homes, while as many as 1,779 cars had been registered to a single home.

“The streets are filled up because of these so-called garage letters. This hasn’t been a solution, has it? Does this mean the person who wants to bring in a car needs to keep waiting? The failure to find a solution to this is due to the government’s carelessness. There’s no need to blame this or that government for this,” he said.

Mosta described the lack of option to import a car into Male’ unless with a garage letter as a “joke”.

Hulhumale’ MP Ali Niyaz, a parliamentarian from MDP, agreed, but said he was opposed to Mosta’s bill.

Kaashidhoo MP Abdulla Jabir, leader of DRP, described it as a scam.

Maamigili MP Qasim Ibrahim, leader of JP, agreed.

“When you import your car and go to them with all your certifications, they ask where the garage letter is. That it cannot be registered without a garage. When that happens, the government is swindling the people. I believe it’s a scam,” he said.

Maradhoo MP Ibrahim Shareef, a parliamentarian from MDP, said unrestricted import of vehicles into Male’ cannot be allowed. He said an amendment from the government to revise the system under a set policy would have his backing.

“How are people to drive in the roads of Male’ if people were allowed to import as many vehicles as they want. There’s no space to park. There’s no place to garage. It is unacceptable to propose a bill that will exacerbate this situation. I condemn this,” he said.

Ihavandhoo MP Mohamed Shifau, another MDP parliamentarian, noted the same bill had previously been rejected by the Parliament. He said the bill was resubmitted without amendment.

However, he agreed the issue needed to be addressed.

“If we were to stop or reduce something bad, we need to show the people a better path and tell them to follow that path. If we force a solution, it often leads to just another door to corruption opening,” he said.

Shifau said forcing people to get garage letters to register their vehicles was leading to corruption.

South Machangolhi MP Ahmed Haitham, also a MDP parliamentarian, agreed.

“This garage letter isn’t really a solution. We need to find another way,” he said.

However, repealing the garage letter requirement and allowing unrestricted import of vehicles cannot be allowed, said Haitham.

Mosta’s bill was previously rejected by the Parliament with 43-1 votes.