Working to have Sri Lankan or Chinese consulate in Addu City: Mayor Nizar

Mayor of Addu City, Ali Nizar seen at a council meeting | Photo: Addu City Council

Addu City, Maldives – Mayor of Addu City, Ali Nizar has said that the council was working on opening a Sri Lankan or Chinese consulate in Addu City.

Speaking on a local TV program last night, Mayor Nizar told they were working to have a Sri Lankan or Chinese consulate opened in Addu City before the Indian consulate is opened.

This comes while heavy criticism and speculation has spread within the local community following India’s decision to establish their consulate in the southern most city of the country.

Mayor Nizar told that the campaign against the Indian consulate being established in Addu City is from an anti-India campaign lead by the opposition and that India’s intentions in opening the consulate in Addu City is pure.

He also added that Indian High Commission in Maldives had given the assurance that they will not request for land to establish the consulate and that a building would be rented for the consulate.

We have discussed with the Chinese Embassy in Maldives regarding the matter. But since there aren’t any Chinese projects ongoing in Addu City, they are not too interested to open a consulate at the moment. We are trying to have another country’s consulate established in Addu City before the Indian one gets established. That will stop the anti campaign against it, thats the solution.

Ali Nizar, Mayor of Addu City

Mayor Nizar also told that there was no issue of an Indian consulate being established in Addu City and that there are always people who are against such developmental feats for the city and that all of these campaigns were politically motivated.

Following the news of the Indias proposal to establish a Consulate in Addu City, Indian High Commission in Maldives had stated that light connectivity may commence soon considering the growing people to people contact and rising trade and economic engagement.

Indian High Commission also stated that if there is an Indian Consulate in Addu that visa works for medical and education purposes could be handled in Addu and that this would save costs and time for residents of Addu and other Southern atolls. 

HC also told that there are also large number of beneficiaries of scholarships, both under ITEC and ICCR scholarship schemes, who come from the Southern atolls if the consulate is established and that interviewees will also be able to do their interview and visa formalities in Addu, thus obviating the need to travel to Malé. 

High Commission had told that if and when the Government of Maldives approves the proposal for setting up an Indian Consulate in Addu, that a suitable location will be identified in Addu that will enable the local communities to access the Consulate without restrictions. 

Currently projects worth about USD 200 million are being carried out in Addu. These include the Addu Roads, Addu Reclamation, and Gan Airport Redevelopment project under Indian Line of Credit and India’s largest grant project in the Maldives – the National College for Police and Law Enforcement. In addition to this, three island fisheries units, and, five eco-tourism projects are also being implemented under Indian grants for community development. 

According to Indian High Commission, these projects will not only give fillip to local economy but also promote local employment.  India is also providing grant assistance for a Drug Detox Centre which is progressing very fast. Maldives Shipping Service (MSS) had also started a direct cargo ferry service between Tuticorin and Addu in December 2020. 

India’s Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the opening of a new Consulate General of India in Addu City, Maldives in May 25, 2021. 

Although the government of Maldives has yet to approve the establishment of an Indian consulate in Addu City, Mayor Nizar stated that Addu City Council will provide full support in the matter as it is an important decision made regarding the development of Addu.

If the government accepts the offer to establish an Indian consulate in Addu City, then it will be the first time in Maldives’ history that a diplomatic mission of a foreign country will be opened in an island other than the capital Malé city.