The civil court on Thursday ordered a local company to vacate its Newport View restaurant in Malé’s eastern waterfront and hand back the large plot of land to the government within 15 days.
The ruling in favour of the state came after the Attorney General’s office sought an eviction order and sued Stada Pvt Ltd to recover more than MVR1 million (US$65,000) owed as unpaid rent and fines.
The civil court upheld the cancellation of the lease agreement in March. A clause allowed termination if outstanding rent was not settled before the end of a month, the judgment noted.
Strada failed to pay monthly rent since December 1, according to the AG office. The company was ordered to pay MVR1.1 million along with accrued rent and fines within 30 days.
A 10,000 square feet area was controversially leased in September 2016 to Strada – whose director Zahid Rameez was a council member of the ruling party at the time – to build a food outlet along with a platform to view the construction of the Sinamalé bridge near the capital’s surf point.
The Strada deal was scrapped after the new administration took office in November. The new ministry of national planning and infrastructure said Strada was continuing to operate the food outlet illegally and vowed to take measures to vacate the grounds.
In accordance with a plan, Malé’s eastern corner will be developed as “a green area” for public use, it added.
The former government’s decision to pay MVR14.4 million (US$933,852) to Strada as compensation for the relocation of the Chatime beverage shop was an attempt to provide an illegal or undue benefit, the anti-corruption watchdog concluded last May.
In March, three events – a Samsung phone launch, a caricature art exhibition, and a women’s day fair – that were to be hosted in Newport View were cancelled after public outrage over the death threats and longstanding corruption allegations.