Speaking at a ceremony held at Henveiru Stadium to celebrate Maldives Ports Limited's (MPL) 36th Anniversary, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said if Maldives had a high standard commercial port, the country's revenue would be higher than it is now.
The President said that the country's location in the Indian Ocean would greatly benefit the international shipping industry.
Although MPL provided port services in Maldives before its establishment, the country's commercial port has not developed in parallel to its economic growth and increase in imported goods.
“The underdevelopment of the commercial port is a huge loss to the entire economy,” he said.
The president said the current situation arose due to changes that had to be made to the port to address immediate needs without establishing a long term plan.
According to the president, one of the biggest problems faced by the commercial port in Maldives is the lack of space.
"The extended time it takes for imported goods to reach businesses is a huge loss to the economy. There is not enough space for a commercial port in Male', and there is no way to expand the existing port," he said.
MPL has reiterated there is still a lack of container space at the commercial port and difficulties in docking vessels.
The government has launched a project to relocate the commercial port to Gulhifalhu, where a large area has been dredged for the purpose.
The project will speed up the activities and services of the commercial port. With the development of the new commercial port, the existing ports and warehouses in the Male' area will be relocated to Gulhifalhu.
Noting that the change would bring additional benefits, President Solih said it would reduce heavy industrial activities within the city’s crowded settlement and also allow the city to use the existing port areas for other services.
Since President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih took office in November 2018, MPL has been expanding its services. In addition to the development of the commercial harbor in Haa Dhaalu atoll Kulhudhuffushi and Seenu atoll Hithadhoo, the regional port planned to be built in Gaafu Dhaalu atoll Thinadhoo is noteworthy.
With the completion of the bulk terminal in Thilafushi by mid 2023, the import of stone and gravel will commence, which is an activity that MPL has not initiated so far.
The president hopes that the development of the commercial port would accelerate the economic activities of Maldives.
At the ceremony yesterday, the President thanked employees of MPL for their hard work during the pandemic.
MPL, established in 1986 has been operating the country's main commercial harbor for the past 36 years. The ceremony was attended by several cabinet members, MPL officials and employees along with the President.
A special plaque was presented to retired employees and those who have served MPL for more than 30 years. Three online services were launched to digitize the company's services and a community fund was also launched under MPL's CSR activity.