Increased cab fare at the domestic airport terminal: will the Maldives cab fares continue to rise?

It seems that when it comes to the cab fare debate, citizens are constantly on the losing end.

Corporate Maldives

Corporate Maldives

Taxi or cab fares can be a tricky subject in the Maldives. While a majority of the citizens would agree that cab fares in the Maldives are extremely high, there is a group of cab drivers who may disagree and state that the set cab fares are within a reasonable price range. The reasoning behind the justification often comes down to cab drivers being able to make a livable wage throughout the month.

While this might be the perspective of cab drivers, the Maldives has seen increasing cab fares throughout the years. Although getting in a cab and travelling within Male’ or Hulhumale’ did not use to cost much, taking a cab between the two destinations multiple times a month can wreck up quite a bill these days. Prior to this year, the latest hike in taxi fares was seen in 2022, when the conflict between Russia and Ukraine started resulting in hikes in fuel prices. With this, the taxi fares in the Greater Male’ area was increased to:

  • Within Male’, Hulhumale’ Phase I or Phase II: MVR 30
  • Male’ to Hulhumale’ Phase I and vice versa: MVR 85
  • Male’ to Hulhumale’ Phase II and vice versa: MVR 100
  • Male’ to Hulhule’ and vice versa: MVR 70 
  • Hulhumale’ Phase I to Hulhule’ and vice versa: MVR 80 
  • Hulhumale’ Phase II to Hulhule’ and vice versa: MVR 85
  • Hulhumale’ Phase I to Hulhumale’ Phase II and vice versa: MVR 40

Although many were under the guise that this hike in cab fare was a temporary increase due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, around two years later the cab fares continued to remain this high. However, these prices were set back in 2022 as some cab drivers around the Greater Male’ Area started charging clients extremely unreasonable and high fares, prompting the Government to put out set prices. Although this did not end the debate around the taxi fare debate, the increased fares became the norm - it became a burden on anyone who continues to travel between Male’ and Hulhumale’.

With this, many thought there would be no more debates around cab fares or cab drivers charging exorbitant amounts to passengers, as the Government had made it clear that it would go against the guidelines to charge passengers more than the amount that has clearly been stated in 2022. However, as the Velana Airport officially renovated and opened its domestic terminal, the debate has started yet again.

As the airport allowed passengers to be dropped off at the domestic terminal, just a few minutes further than the international terminal stop, cab drivers had yet again started charging passengers high cab fares.   While some drivers continued to charge the normal fares for an airport drop-off, other cab drivers started adding another MVR 10-20 into the normal cab fare. With this, there was a need to revisit the cab fares and update the guidelines. And it seems that when it comes to the cab fare debate, citizens are constantly on the losing end.

On the 14th of May, the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation determined new fares, allowing cab drivers to charge an additional MVR 10-15 for the domestic drop-off at the airport. As the new fares are set to be implemented starting the 20th of May, a lot of citizens are starting to wonder whether the Maldives will ever listen to citizens’ concerns and lower cab fares or if taxi drivers are always on a winning streak in this debate. With this, cab fares to the domestic drop off at Velana International Airport news to MVR 100, while the international drop-off just five minutes away costs MVR 10-15 less.

Not only has the taxi fare to this specific location been set at a higher price but cab drivers have also called on the Government to stop intervening in the provision of taxi services.

Salaries have increased. Prices of all the services have gone up. All commodities are more highly priced now. But the government insists that the prices of taxi services must decrease. Our demand, too, was to bring a favourable change to our prices. The government does not offer any subsidies to us in this work. There is no service provided by a State owned company that does not get a government subsidy. We get our own cars, service it ourselves, find parking spaces ourselves... there's no dedicated parking spaces provided by the government. 
 Taxi driver representative at a press conference hosted on the 14th of May. 

While taxi drivers feel it is within their own right to increase taxi fares with the provision of increased salaries and increased prices on other goods and services, many would agree that the current cab fare in the Maldives is already way too high for a person earning an average salary. Although people could opt for public transportation, trips to the airport and other urgent trips constantly require cab services, which are becoming increasingly inaccessible, especially for people with average to low incomes.

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