The Malé City Council’s recent decision to transfer major development projects to the Ministry of Construction and Infrastructure has sparked a wave of criticism and debate. This decision, involving the transfer of projects such as parking buildings and commercial and housing developments in Vilimalé, has raised concerns about both the process and the implications of this move.

Mohamed Shahid, Minister at the Corporate Development Ministry and former project consultant, played a pivotal role in the council meeting where this decision was taken. Shahid, advocating for the transfer, proposed that the projects should be handed over to the Ministry while keeping the original terms and conditions intact.

Despite unanimous support from the council members, with the exception of Nazima Faiz of the West Galolhu Constituency who abstained, the decision has been met with skepticism. Criticism centres around the involvement of Shahid, who currently holds a position at the President’s Office, in council matters. Deputy Mayor Mohamed Nareesh defended Shahid’s participation, stating that drawing on the expertise of former officials is a common practice.

Saif Fathih, council member for the North Galolhu Constituency, questioned the necessity of Shahid’s involvement, arguing that council members were capable of handling the proposition themselves. He also raised doubts about the projects’ reliance on the State’s Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) budget, asserting that the council had independently secured funding for these projects.

Fathih further speculated that the move might stem from President Dr Mohamed Muizzu’s mistrust in the current council, dominated by the PNC/PPM coalition, to complete projects initiated during his tenure as Mayor. He strongly opposed the idea of former employees acting as advisors in official council meetings.

The official rationale for the transfer is to expedite project progress, with a stipulation that projects costing over MVR 100 million will be returned to the City Council if no progress is observed within six months.

Meanwhile, Adam Azim, the soon-to-be Mayor of Malé City, expressed his disapproval of the council’s decision. Azim criticised the move on a social media platform, highlighting its contradiction with Chapter 8 of the Constitution and the Decentralisation Act, and its deviation from the expectations of Malé City’s citizens. 

He urged the government to halt the ministers’ attempts to take over City Council-managed projects and requested a delay in the decision’s implementation until he assumes office.

This controversy arises at a crucial juncture, just days before Azim takes over as Mayor, and reflects deeper tensions within the council, particularly concerning the influence of state ministries and former officials on city governance.