Power shortages may spoil the government’s plans to light up the capital Malé City on Independence Day, the State Electric Company (STELCO) has said.
A crucial 8MW generator is down at the power plant due to an unexpected failure and may take up to two weeks to repair.
Ibrahim Rauf, the STELCO spokesperson, said the company may have to cut off power intermittently at different areas in Malé due to the generator failure. It is one of the two 8MW generators at the power plant. There are a number of smaller power generators.
“The lights alone will use around 2.5 MW of electricity from our grid. We are very concerned and saddened because the lights may also suffer due to the power cuts,” said Rauf.
The Supreme Court, the President’s Office, the smoke stacks at the power plant, the foreign ministry and numerous government buildings have been decked from the ground floor to the top in red, green and white LED lights.
Maldives is celebrating 50 years of independence from the British on July 26.
Malé uses 46MW of electricity on average, but the amount could go up to 52MW at peak hours or on dry and humid days. Rauf said he expects electricity demand to be high on Independence Day, but stressed that only some areas will suffer power cuts, meaning most of the buildings in Malé will continue to be lit-up.
“The demand for electricity depends a lot on the weather. If we have wet cold weather then people would not use air-conditioners and electricity demand will be reduced,” he said.
It has been raining on and off in Malé this weekend, but July 26 is expected to be dry, according to weather forecasts.
Power cuts will last only one hour at high demand periods, and will be spread out in different areas of Malé, Rauf said. STELCO is yet to determine the cause of the generator failure.
The government is planning grand celebrations to mark Independence Day, including a parade by the army and school brass bands, reopening of public parks with water fountains, an official function at the Usfasgandu area with more than 100 foreign dignitaries, official games at the national stadium, and a football tournament in the atolls.
The government has not yet disclosed the full program for the day.
Several areas at Male’s waterfront have meanwhile been closed off as the government rushes to complete major renovation projects including a new official jetty and a musical water fountain at the Republic Square before July 26.
Finance minister Abdulla Jihad previously told Minivan News the budget was MVR150 million (US$9.7million).
Piles of garbage have been left to rot on the streets of Malé days after a housing ministry organized waste disposal program ended.
The housing ministry on June 14 announced it will pick up trash from households between 4pm and 10pm on June 15. The program was announced ahead of the Islamic month of Ramadan.
Officials said households must register to get trash cleared out.
Five days later, several houses are continuing to leave trash on Malé’s narrow and congested streets.
Housing minister Dr Mohamed Muizz has accused the opposition of deliberately thrashing the streets of Malé. On June 18, the first day of Ramadan, Muizz said the waste disposal program was over and said that the opposition has been “throwing out garbage in different areas” of the city to hinder government efforts to “keep Malé clean.”
Male magu thah saafu thaahiru koh sarukaarun balahattamun dhaathee idhikolhu faraaithakun raavaigen dhanee Male ge eki hisaabah kuni alhamun
International hotel developer Starwood Hotels and Resorts has announced the opening of the Maldives’ first resort under its luxury brand world St. Regis next year.
The new resort is being developed in Dhaa Atoll Vommuli Island, a 40-minute seaplane ride away from the capital Malé, by the Chennai-based Appaaswamy Group
Starwood Hotels currently operates the W Retreat & Spa and Sheraton Full Moon Resort & Spa.
The new Vommuli Resort will feature 77 luxurious private villas, a spa with six private treatment rooms, an infinity swimming pool, and a state of the art fitness centre along with a dive and activity center.
“This signing further fuels Starwood’s strong growth momentum in South Asia, where we continue to see strong demand for high-end hotel accommodations,” said Sudeep Jain – Starwood’s Vice President of Acquisitions and Development.
“The upcoming arrival of the St. Regis brand in the Maldives underpins our commitment to Starwood’s luxury portfolio in this dynamic market.”
The St. Regis brand operates more than 30 hotels and resorts around the world.
“We are pleased to partner with Starwood to bring this hotel to life: marrying the bespoke service of the St. Regis brand with the ‘barefoot luxury’ mentality of the Maldives,” said Ravi Appasamy Managing Director of Residency Resorts Male Private Limited.
“The brand’s allure, coupled with Starwood’s powerful loyalty program, is sure to entice affluent travelers to visit this enchanting destination.”
The State Electricity Company (STELCO) has signed a US$90 million power development project with China’s Dongfang Electric International Corporation to generate an additional 50 megawatts of electricity.
The state-owned utility company provides electricity services in Malé and its suburbs and presently produces 60 megawatts using 22 engines.
Under its fifth power development project, the company will install six engines over the next two years capable of generating eight megawatts each.
Speaking at a project inauguration ceremony on Thursday, STELCO managing director Abdul Shukoor said the company struggled to generate enough electricity for Malé during the recent hot northeastern monsoon.
STELCO was also unable to do maintenance work on engines and machinery, he said.
Once the power project is complete, Shukoor said STELCO would be able to provide electricity services without interruptions or technical problems.
The project will be financed through the STELCO budget and with loan assistance. The new engines are to be kept at the vacant plot next to the garbage dump.
Shukoor said the company plans to carry out another power development after four years, which will be four times bigger than the current project.
With additional reporting by Ismail Humaam Hamid and Zaheena Rasheed.
The Maldives’ capital city Malé is gearing up for a mass anti-government rally tomorrow. The day will kick off with prayers at dawn and at noon. Protesters have been told to wear comfortable shoes and clothes for the official demonstration, which will start from the Artificial Beach at 3:30pm.
Supporters from Maldives’ remote atolls are continuing to arrive by the thousands, and the opposition has set hashtags #EkehFaheh15 (OneFive15) and #AniyaaverikanNinmman (To end tyranny) for the day, and started circulating leaflets on how to reduce the effects of pepper spray and tear gas.
Supporters say they are determined to “end the government’s tyranny” and free imprisoned ex president Mohamed Nasheed and former defence minister Mohamed Nazim.
Meanwhile, tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb has accused the opposition of plotting to overthrow President Abdulla Yameen’s government as the police continued riot control exercises on Malé’s streets.
“We expect the security forces to confront us, but we have no fear,” a smiling Khadeeja Ibrahim, 49, told Minivan News outside the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) offices at noon today.
She was among a group of MDP members who were about to deliver tens of thousands of petitions calling for Nasheed’s freedom to the president’s office. The police turned them back.
Across town, Ibrahim Nadheem, 26, who works in a grocery shop and is studying to become a Quran teacher said Nasheed “brought me hope, he had a vision for the youth, that we should grow up to be skilled and educated citizens.”
Nadheem’s face is disfigured by a broken nose after a police officer punched him during a protest in 2012.
At the airport, Mohamed Zubair, who suffered serious head injuries in a brutal police crackdown in February 2012, says he is ready to sacrifice again for Nasheed’s freedom. “Today I am hopeful.”
Nasheed and Nazim’s imprisonment has united former bitter rivals, the Adhaalath Party, the Jumhooree Party and the MDP, who now say President Yameen is out to silence all dissent.
The opposition called for the demonstration when Yameen turned down repeated calls for dialogue despite months of nationwide protests. The president made a record number of public appearances this week and has appealed to the armed forces to defend his administration.
Among government employees, paranoia and fear is high. Employees at the state-owned electricity company, STELCO, the Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) and the immigration department say their superiors have threatened them with dismissal if they are seen at the protests.
“We are all afraid, I can’t go. I don’t want to lose my job, I have to pay rent and take care of my family,” one 43-year-old man, who works in STELCO, told Minivan News.
The MPL has meanwhile arranged a BBQ at 1:30pm and a dinner for all of its employees tomorrow, in a move opposition supporting workers say is aimed at keeping them away from the protest.
“We’ve also been told if anyone of us is seen at the protests, we will be dismissed immediately,” an employee who wished to remain anonymous said.
The home ministry this week said it has received reports that dozens of island council members are traveling to Malé on state expenses to take part in the protests, and has asked the anti-corruption watchdog to take action.
The department of judicial administration has also demanded island offices to provide information on magistrates and judicial sector employees who have traveled to the capital this week.
Meanwhile, a website set up for the Mayday protest was hacked and a photo of president Yameen and the PPM logo was put up with the words: “Go back to your homes if you want peaceful Maldives.”
On social media, opposition supporters called for revolution.
The police have also raised concerns over violence, saying they have received reports protesters will harm police officers and attack the residences of cabinet ministers. Tonight, they issued a statement telling protesters to suspend activities for the hour between the dusk and evening prayers and said the demonstration must end by midnight.
Adhaalath Party (AP) president Sheikh Imran Abdulla said last night that protesters will perform the evening prayers on the street after a special prayer at sunset, advising protesters to bring prayer mats.
The police have released several photos and videos of protest control trainings this week.
The AP, which has claimed responsibility for organising the protest, must bear legal costs for any unlawful activities that may take place before or after protests, the police said.
Some opposition supporters fears of attacks by gangs, who are allegedly controlled by tourism minister Adeeb. Gangsters have attacked protesters in recent months with knives and vandalised their equipment.
Police preparation for May Day is just a show. It will not be the police, but Adheeb’s gangs confronting peaceful protestors tomorrow. — Mickail Naseem (@MickailNaseem) April 30, 2015
Individuals who said they will not attend the protests cited concern over a possible confrontation between police and protesters.
“I am not happy with the idea of protesting, it creates too much conflict. The end result will not be good,” said 49-year-old Maryam Waheedha.
A fisherman who wished to remain anonymous “for the safety of his family” told Minivan News that he was unhappy with the government, but did not like to protest.
“I used to make 3,000 rufiyaa a week from two baskets of fish before Yameen came to power. But now I am not able to make that in a month even with a ton of fish,” he claimed.
Pro-government supporters denounced the opposition as power-hungry, but said they expect tomorrow’s turnout to be high.
Mohamed Waheed, 36, said; “We will not go to the protest, we will be sleeping on May 1. I do think there will be a good turn out at the protest, big enough to pressure the government.”
The housing ministry will issue permits to park vehicles in the newly pedestrianised zones starting from today, according to a press statement from the ministry.
From today (February 15), Heena Goalhi, Rayvila Magu – both in Henveiru ward, and the narrow road leading from Burevi Magu will be closed to vehicles until June 8.
The decision was made by housing ministry on February 10 after President Abdulla Yameen pledged to introduce vehicle free zones in Malé, with the government saying that more would follow the initial pilot scheme.
The press statement issued by ministry today noted that permits to park in the vehicle free zones would only be issued to those living in the area, while the permit will only be issued after presenting evidence that the person is living in the area and the vehicle registration.
President Abdulla Yameen’s administration has scaled down water relief efforts today by ending the distribution of bottled water to residents of capital Malé.
“We decided to stop the bottled water distribution because there is no shortage of drinking water at the moment. There is also enough water at corner shops for purchase,” Minister of Defense Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim said at a press conference last night.
The government had set up water distribution centers after a fire at Malé Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC) on December 4 gutted the sole desalination plant in Malé, leaving 130,000 people without drinking and running water.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) condemned the government’s decision with party Chairperson Ali Waheed saying that the decision will lead to further hardship and claimed the Maldives is currently seeing its worst days since the 1970s.
A Bangladeshi navy ship, the BNS Samudra Joy, arrived in Malé today with 100 tonnes of bottled water and five reverse osmosis plants, the Foreign Ministry has said.
Nazim, who also heads the water crisis task force, said that funds would mainly be used to recover costs which are not covered by insurance, the construction of the 20,000 ton water reserve and to cover the cost of relief operations. Individuals and corporations who contributed to the relief effort will all be reimbursed, he said.
In response, Nazim said the fund was set up with “very good intentions.”
“Information about the fund would be released in a very transparent manner. I urge the public to refrain from politicizing the fund.” he added.
Anti-corruption NGO Transparency Maldives has demanded a break down of the US$20 million and said “the decision to seek donations from the public raises questions given that MWSC is a private, profit-making corporation with 80 per cent government shares.”
Private donors have contributed US$5.5million to the fund so far.
Protests demanding free water continued in Malé last night, but were disrupted for the third time by a group of seven young men.
Minivan news observed six to seven young men who were hiding within the protesters jump on a truck and start vandalizing the generator powering the sound system. One attacker lifted up the generator and threw it on the ground.
Police immediately moved in and arrested the attackers. Minivan news saw little to no resistance from the attackers during the arrest.
Several eyewitnesses later told Minivan news that the attackers were praising President Yameen as they waited for a police vehicle to take them to the police head quarters.
“President Yameen is the best thing to have happened to the nation,” one of the attackers was reported as saying.
Another eyewitness told Minivan News that he heard one Special Operations (SO) police officer insulting Former President Mohamed Nasheed while stating those arrested would be released the next day.
A police media official confirmed to minivan news that seven men were arrested last night in relation to the attacks at the protest.
The Maldives has signed an MoU with the Chinese government regarding a pre-feasibility study of the proposed Malé-Hulhulé bridge.
The agreement was signed by Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr Mohamed Muizz and Yung Wan Xion, principal of the Chinese Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs.
Dr Muizz thanked the Chinese government for the generous support and said that the Maldives was giving utmost priority to the project in order to complete it.
In October, a Chinese team of engineers reportedly conducted a survey on the feasibility of the bridge while also researching the best pier points for the bridge, while Chinese government officials announced they would “favorably consider” financing the project.
Speaking to Haveeru at the time, tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb said the survey was to be finished in a period of four months, with costs being covered by US$4 million in aid from the Chinese government.
Opposition Maldives Democratic Party of Maldives (MDP) has, however, criticised the government’s inclusion of high amounts of funds allotted for the bridge feasibility study in the upcoming three years.
Malé City Council Deputy Mayor Shifa Mohamed says that controlling today’s floods (October 30) is made more difficult with the current condition of the capital’s roads.
Shifa told Minivan News that poor planning and a lack of maintenance had exacerbated the floods occurring across Malé City today (October 30) after heavy downpours in the morning and the afternoon.
“The drains on the sides of the roads have not been properly emptied for over 25 years. There are all sorts of junk in the drains which is clogging up the drainage system leading to floods with the slightest bit of rain,” said Shifa.
Many major roads in the the capital are currently flooded disrupting transportation with much of the south-west of the 6km sq island under water – rising a foot high in many places.
Te department of meteorology has explained that 58 millimeters of rain were recorded in the capital during two hours this morning.
The MET office predicts heavy rain in the next two days. However, wind speeds are expected to be moderate.
Local media reported that police vehicles were being used to transport students, left stranded across the city, to and from the schools.
Communications were also affected, with heavy thunder this morning damaging Dhiraagu and Television Maldives equipment, leading to network problems and delays in the broadcast from of the state television channel.
Shifa said that the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) is assisting the council with draining the water by setting up pumps at locations most severely affected by the floods.
“We have also diverted half of our waste management team to assist the MNDF in controlling the floods and requested assistance from the National Disaster Management Centre,” explained Shifa.
The deputy mayor accused the government of having misplaced priorities, referring to the planned Malé-Hulhulé bridge project. Shifa argued that the residents of Malé do not need a bridge connecting them with the airport while the roads are in such a condition.
She also stressed the importance of reaching a mutual understanding with the government and the city council regarding the roads, urging collective efforts to repair the roads.
Malé City Council – dominated by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – was formed by the 2010 Decentralisation Act – has experienced fraught relations with the central government since the fall of the MDP government in 2012.
Mayor Mohamed Shihab has complained that the main difficulty facing the council is obtaining the resources required to manage the rapidly expanding city.
Last week the council complained that is had not been informed before the cancellation of an agreement with Indian firm Tatva to to provide waste management services in the capital Malé and nearby areas.