An Indian company might have been unceremoniously thrown out of the multi-billion dollar Male airport modernisation project, but New Delhi is ensuring passengers get smooth immigration service at the same airport.
At a ceremony held in Male’s Ibrahim Nasir International Airport on Sunday afternoon, High Commissioner Dnyaneshwar Mulay formally handed over a new system to facilitate travellers.
Mr. Mulay had been targeted by some Maldivian right-leaning parties over the award of the airport project to a consortium of Indian and Malaysian companies.
The Maldivian government, drawing some of its resolve from these parties, cancelled the biggest single foreign direct investment to the country amid New Delhi's protestations.
The immigration control system was received by Maldivian officials in the presence of a Minister, senior officials and representatives of an Indian Government department, National Informatics Center (NIC), which set up the facility.
Officials said this move demonstrated the commitment of both governments to continue their cooperation even in sensitive areas such as immigration services despite political run-ins and diplomatic quandaries.
Maldivian officials termed the new system a “giant step” in the capability of Maldivian Immigration.
Called the Airport Passenger Information System (APIS), it will feed advance information on passengers travelling to and from Maldives, to the border control system. This is used by enforcement authorities like Immigration, Customs, Police and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).
For Maldives, a safe and efficient immigration service is a vital ingredient for its economic growth as it is a predominantly tourism-dependent country. It is considered one of the world’s top bracket tourist destinations. With a population of 3.5 lakh, official figures show it receives three times as many visitors in a year.