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Fishermen protests escalate, Addu Fisheries Complex operations stopped

Ameera Osmanagic
23 June 2024, MVT 16:43
Addu Fisheries Complex employees with mattresses laid outside amidst the power outage in their accommodation quarters as protests continue -- Photo: MIFCO
Ameera Osmanagic
23 June 2024, MVT 16:43

Fishermen's protests in Addu over unpaid fees have escalated resulting in the cease of the Addu Fisheries Complex (AFC) operations.

The protests posed significant restrictions on the fisheries complex operations since it began last Thursday.

State owned enterprise Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO), which operates the AFC says protesting fishermen have warned that they will remove any personnel on site and take over the facility after 16:00 hrs today.

The company further said that although the facility employees in Hulhumeedhoo were present in the area, they posed no restrictions to the protests. However, persistent protests in the area would hinder the operations of the facility, they said.

During yesterday's protest, fishermen entered the staff canteen of the facility, which was closed at the time, and used the food supply there, MIFCO said. Protestors also accessed the electric supply area, blacking out the entire employee accommodation block. As a result, employees have been sleeping outside and are facing difficulties accessing toilets as well, said MIFCO.

Although electricity was restored at the fisheries complex last night upon the request of Maldives Police Service, escalations which lead to threats of vandalism saw the power being turned back off again.

While the protest has lead to disruptions in operations of the fisheries complex and difficulties faced by its employees, police have urged protestors to refrain from engaging in any unlawful activities.

In an advisory issued, police said that fishermen were given the opportunity to continue their protest peacefully within legal boundaries.

Protestors are currently making two main demands; one being the continued power black out in both the administration and cafeteria buildings of the fisheries complex, and clearing all due payments to the fishermen.

As protests continue, MIFCO said they are in conversation with the government to clear the unpaid dues as soon as possible.

Prior to the government holidays last week in celebration of Eid al-Adha, the government issued MVR 46 million of the MVR 80 million owed to the fishermen.

MIFCO also said they have requested fishermen to continue protests peacefully without causing damage to its property and employees, while payments are being processed.

There are over a hundred employees working at the Addu Fisheries Complex. In light of the protest, MIFCO is working to ensure the safety of its employees, they said.

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