Male’ City Mayor Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has criticized the central government for its decision to start the Raajje Transport Link (RTL) bus service in suburban Vilimale’, as the council prepares to launch electric buggy service in the island.
The current city council had made the decision to launch buggy service in Vilimale’ in its very first council meeting after winning the election 2021.
The city council procured 10 electric buggies, and announced the service would launch in February.
However, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who is running for the MDP presidential ticket to secure a second term in office, announced plans to expand the RTL bus service to Vilimale’ during a campaign event in the island.
The state-owned Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) confirmed Tuesday that it would expand its RTL bus service to Vilimale’ on Friday, January 20. The company said it would be using six 15-seater electric buses for the service.
However, the city council had already procured 10 electric buggies; three four-seaters, three six-seaters, one 12-seater, two buggies for cargo, and one for patients.
City council said the buggy service would be provided 24/7, and would launch in early February.
In an interview to Sun on Wednesday, Muizzu described the unilateral decision by the government to launch bus service in Vilimale’ with no prior discussion with the council as an act of harassment.
“The council has been working on this for months. The government made this decision the day before yesterday, just two-three weeks before we were set to launch this with permission from the Transport Ministry,” he said.
Muizzu said the city council’s plans to launch buggy service hadn’t been some secret project, but was something they had been working on with permission from the government.
“There is no logical reason why they should have MTCC take this unnecessary expense. The council made the decision to provide this service following discussions with the island’s residents. To provide the service as the people want it,” he said.
Muizzu said that the residents of Vilimale’ didn’t want a passenger bus alone, but also a mode of transport for the sick and cargo.
‘WE WILL PROVIDE BUGGY SERVICE, REGARDLESS OF EXISTENCE OF BUS SERVICE’
Muizzu said the city council would not back down, and would introduce the electric buggy service, even if the bus service is launched.
“We will, God willing, do this as the people want. The government’s refusal to listen to us, to discuss things with us, and pushing their own agenda is no reason why we should stop our work and go back home,” he said.
Muizzu said he so no reason for MTCC’s buses to be taken to Vilimale’, while there was a greater need for the buses in Male’ City and Hulhumale’.
He accused the government of pushing its own agenda.
“I am concerned because they are doing something so unnecessary. It’s unnecessary because it’s such a waste of money. If they have electric buses, why don’t they drive it in the populous Male’?” he said.
‘DECENTRALIZATION SYSTEM EXISTS ON PAPER ALONE’
Muizzu said that the government does not seek input from the city council when it makes such major decisions. He said that making such unilateral decisions is damaging to the people.
“These big orders coming from above. They do not seek input from the council elected by the people. It’s written in the law that they must seek counsel from councils in making decisions. But, the words and actions of this government do not meet when they stand up at podiums and claim to be ‘champions of decentralization’,” he said.
Muizzu said that he believes the government is deliberately sidelining the council because the opposition PPM holds majority in the council.
The decentralization system is only for councils that support the government, he alleged.
The city council has repeatedly complained of lack of support from the central government for their initiatives. Muizzu claims that the council, in contrast, is fully cooperative with the government.