Fishermen in Addu Continue Protest Amid Government Threats

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Fishermen at the Addu Fisheries Complex have persisted in their protest despite warnings from the government and the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO). The protest, now in its fifth day as of Monday, revolves around unpaid dues owed by the government to the fishermen.

Mohamed Shameez, the protest leader and bait captain of Maradhoo’s Rahaa boat, emphasized that their demonstration would not cease until the outstanding payments are settled by the authorities. He expressed frustration over unmet promises and delays in payment processing, citing a significant reduction in the purchasing price of fish as a key issue affecting their livelihoods.

“The government pledged payments within 48 hours of weighing our catch, but 48 days later, we are still waiting. This undermines our confidence in the system,” Shameez stated.

The fishermen’s demands are clear: they seek fair compensation for their work and demand transparency and efficiency in payment procedures. They argue that the government’s failure to address their concerns responsibly has exacerbated the situation.

MIFCO, in response to the protests, accused the fishermen of disrupting operations and violating the rights of employees by entering restricted areas within the complex. The company highlighted incidents such as damage to facilities and blockades hindering efforts to restore essential services like electricity.

Efforts by MIFCO to resume normal operations with police assistance have led to tense standoffs, with allegations of forceful intervention by authorities. Despite these challenges, the fishermen remain resolute in their protest, viewing it as a necessary step to hold the government accountable for its commitments.

Shameez condemned what he described as authoritarian tactics employed to suppress their protest, emphasizing their peaceful intent to secure rightful payments for their labor. He criticized the lack of meaningful dialogue from government officials and stressed the importance of establishing clear rules and order in fisheries management.

The ongoing demonstration underscores broader discontent within the fishing community over economic policies affecting their earnings. Until their grievances are addressed and payments are made, the fishermen have pledged to maintain their protest, illustrating their determination to achieve a fair resolution to their longstanding issues.