Former Immigration Controller Abdullah Shahid has said that work on establishment of the highly disputed border control system commenced after he had discontinued it.
“No work was conducted when I was controller” on the project valued at MVR500 million Shahid claimed.
“Absolutely no work had been pursued. I had stopped it. I did not accept establishing the system at such a hefty price,” he said.
The border control system project was awarded to Malaysian company Nexbiz by the Immigration Controller during Nasheed’s administration Ilyas Hussain and the project had then come to the attention of Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) for suspicion of corruption in awarding the project to Nexbiz.
Ilyas was transferred to another Ministry and Shahid was assigned as controller due to the controversy, however Shahid lost the position following the downfall of former President Nasheed’s administration on February 7.
“Nexbiz had brought in some equipment when I had become controller as well. But I did not let them commence the work,” he claims.
According to Shahid he had tried to install a border control system with the help of the Indian government as it would be free.
“We can establish this system without even spending a penny with the help of the Indian government. The United States was also willing to establish the system for us completely free. But I tried to establish the system with the help of the Indian government because it might take some time if we were to liaise with US. A group of Indian experts had come to the Maldives and conducted and completed their surveys in a month’s time. If I was controller today everything would have been installed by now. Let me tell you something. Those experts from India would not even have to be given a cup of coffee on the expense of the Maldivian government!” he said.
Shahid said that the fact circulated around claiming the project is worth MVR500 million is also completely false.
“It is not a project worth MVR500 million. Around MVR2 billion might be the cost over twenty years,” he estimated.
An official from the Department of Immigration said today that the first phase of the project had been completed and that was after the Civil Court had concluded the first case in favour of the continuation of the project. The first phase contained equipment that needed to be installed at the airport, establishing a branch of the Department of Immigration at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) and building a MVR10 million Immigration data room. Problems arose again while software checkups were in progress.
“The laptops were brought in for the trainings to be conducted,” said the officials of the laptops seized by the Police and the ACC last night from the Department of Immigration.
The second phase of the project is regarding expatriate workers. They include setting up a work visa fee section, quota, online visa, visa payment and online quota distribution. The third phase contains work on upgrading the passports issued.