Maldives govt to introduce meter taxis in capital, helmet rule on bridge

Maldives government announced on Thursday plans to compel bikers to wear helmets on the Sinamel bridge and the highway connecting it to the airport island Hulhule and reclaimed suburb Hulhumale.

Transport minister Aishath Nahula during a press conference on Thursday said the decision was made following a spate of accidents on the bridge highway to ensure the safety of the hundreds of people crossing the bridge every day on motorbikes.

Minister said the new helmet rule would come into effect from March 10 and anyone found in violation would be penalized.

In addition to the helmet rule, the minister also said the government would introduce meter taxis to the capital and greater Male region in a bid to resolve the ongoing dispute over taxi fares especially while crossing the bridge to the airport and Hulhumale.

Most people who took part in the recent public forum over taxi fares had urged the government to introduce meter taxis.

Minister said the policy and regulation on meter taxis would be announced in the near future.

Police late last year had stepped up traffic control measures on the newly opened Sinamale Bridge linking the capital Male to the reclaimed suburb Hulhumale via the airport island Hulhule after a spate of accidents especially on the highway.

The bridge dubbed China-Maldives Friendship bridge before being renamed to Sinamale bridge was financed with USD126 million in grant aid and a concessionary loan from China along with USD12.6 million from the state budget.

The over water bridge stretch out to 1.39 kilometers in length and 20 meters in width.

Since the bridge was opened there have been reports of multiple accidents especially on the highway which links the bridge to the reclaimed suburb.