Cracks in reef could cause Male’ to collapse, warns Ministry of Agriculture

The Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture has raised the alarm over cracks appearing in Male’ reef, after surveys revealed they could eventually cause the reef to collapse just as it did in January outside the Nasandhura Hotel.

State Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr Mohamed Ali, said the cracks in Malé reef are “serious problems because it is the reef on which we are building this infrastructure.”

He said the amount of weight and activity around the reef is “debilitating the structure [and] part of it has already collapsed.”

“Cracks are a significant threat to infrastructure,” he said. “We fear some of the reef face might just fall off.”

Dr Ali said although there were many options being looked to try and resolve or alleviate the issue, “nothing is being done” at the moment. He added one of the simplest options to help relieve the pressure on the reefs was to “reduce the load” they are subjected to.

He said although some of the cracks were natural, “it is [mostly] due to some external forces that exacerbate it.”

He added that the effect of pollution and contamination were also of major concern.

Director of Environmental Protection and Research at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ibrahim Naeem said although “cracks are a common occurrence… there are some threats.”

He said the cracks were occurring “on the reef structure, on the non-living basement of the reef.”

Naeem noted “there is a possibility of collapse” and added “it has happened in many regions,” including in Malé near the Hulhumalé ferry terminal. He said the north-east area of the island was the most vulnerable.

The cracks were usually caused “when people start making buildings and heavy structures, and loading and unloading heavy equipment and goods,” such as granite rock, near vulnerable areas of the reef.

He noted it is “really hard to reconstruct [the reef base]” and if it was to be done, reconstruction might have to start from the sea bed. “We would have to be careful,” he suggested.

Naeem said there had been some studies on the corals around Malé which concluded “it is not a good idea to build heavy structures in these [vulnerable] areas.”

He said the government has also “advised agencies not to give licences to build high structures in those areas.”

Head of Malé Municipality Adam Manik said the incident in front of Nasandhuraa Hotel in Malé, where part of the reef seemingly collapsed, “has nothing to do with the coral reef. It’s the piling.”

Manik said some of the metal pilings beneath Malé, which are 18 inches wide, “don’t reach the lagoon floor bed.”

He said due to “wave action,” the sand beneath the pilings loosens, leaving a gap between the sea bed and the pilings.

He said on 1 January 2010, when the reef collapsed at the hotel, he rushed to Malé to find “several ministries were involved, making a mountain out of a mole-hole.”

He said it would be very “irresponsible of the government” if they were “not giving due credence to these things if they are true.”

Manik said there could be caves in the reef, which would account for the sightings of large cracks. But overall, he said he felt “the whole concept is wrong.”

Building codes stipulate the height of buildings should be determined by the size of their base, but there is no code that limits the weight of a building, Manik added.

Currently, Malé Municipality is in charge of overseeing constructions and making sure they follow the building codes.

Ali Rilwan from environmental NGO Bluepeace said there are places in the reef where “reef slope failure” can be found, meaning the reef has sloped down, as it would happen in a landslide.

Rilwan noted there were some incidents in 1991 when dynamite was used to place the cables for a desalination plant and caused cracks in the reefs. The reef was damaged again near the Hulhumalé ferry terminal, he said, when the sea wall was being put in.

Rilwan said the barge that was transporting all the rocks to build the sea wall unloaded from this area, where the barge was anchored for a long period of time. This in itself, he said, could have worsened sloping of the reef, if not caused it.


17 thoughts on “Cracks in reef could cause Male’ to collapse, warns Ministry of Agriculture”

  1. this will is not a problem yet coz no one has got hurt or even a building collapsed. this alarm would not be heard but that next one that come where building collapse and thousands die the issue will be dealt. people should start moving out of male and build home in place where there is land. now or when would be the right time?

  2. Adam Manik has little or no idea of the valnurabilty of our reefs. He could be right on the cave in near Nasandhura incident but it doesnt mean Fisheries Ministry is wrong either. Our Islands are built on delicate coral reefs and sure there is a limiit on what it can tolerate. Over a Million tons of steel and aggregate is imported to Maldives and 99 PCT is for constructions in Male'. Imagine the kind of weight the Island is taking. Goverment should seriousely do studies on this matter and leave the carbon neutral matter aside atleast for the time being.
    Radhun /Singapore

  3. A mountain out of a mole-hole? Never heard of a mole-hole. A moleHILL on the other hand...

  4. The islands in Maldives are similar to a tall column of rock rising above the sea. There will be a natural limit to which weight can be added before parts of this column of rock gives away. Some islands have smaller diameters than others and could give away easily than others. The debate should not be about whether it will give away or not, rather when will it give away if the population concentration and construction of high rise buildings continue in male’ at present rate.

  5. I don't know about that but what I know is this is one of the most cruel and inhuman places in the world! Look at the rents they are asking from poor islanders!

  6. Well the various Ministries just stood by and watched while Holiday Inn piledrived their way into the island.

    I doubt any action will be taken before it is too late.

    This is a SERIOUS issue and needs to be researched by relevant authorities with qualified people.

    It'd be horrible if lives were lost due to assumptions and inaction.

  7. This issue should be definitely taken seriously - calcium carbonate is not an ideal foundation, especially for piling (see what happened when Holiday Inn was built) - Male' like the other islands is rising up from the seafloor and I would say it has reached its capacity long ago - too many buildings, yet no place to live, a traffic chaos - whoever can, move out of this nightmare.

  8. Adam Maniku should ask Radhun/Singapore, how to handle such a situation. He will have first hand experience, but Adam Maniku should ask only if Adam Maniku wants to move Singapore with family as same offer Radhun got from Maumoon.

  9. Marina!
    You are lucky - I tell ya! You have all the wild in the world to live in and enjoy while we have to migrate to another country as refugees. Reeeepent before you get powdered by calcium carbonate!

  10. It can only be a good thing if parts of Male started collapsing, without endangering any lives of course. That would be sign: "GET OUT OF THIS HELL"!

    Even as the DRP has torpedoed the formation of Provinces in the hope of maintaining Male superiority, nature is thinking of other ways to destabilise Male! Heed the warnings.

  11. There are people who wants to get out of this "HELL HOLE"

  12. There are people who genuinely understand and care for these irregular and unfortunate thing done out of will and lack of understanding and gullibility!

    There are people who genuinely want to get out of this "Hell Hole" immediately, but are rather "trapped"!

    There have been few cases where people have applied for migration. But, there are some catches!

    By constitutional rights, all peoples of Maldives do have the right of migrating to any island of their liking (how nice); and they should be treated indifferently (how rightful and just)!

    All these words are so nice and soothing especially under the well crafted "Green Cover Book"!

    In the islands forms are available (how hopeful and easy)!

    All one has to do is, just fill in the form, and present it to the island office for processing (how thoughtful and easy)!

    These forms will be accepted without difficulty or remorse. What better can one ask for?

    These are then said to be sent to the Male' Municipality for final documentation and registration!

    It is here that there is the tiny but the final "catch"!

    Municipality simply informs the island office, to inform the applicant that; "they have to be living on the island for 5 years" to get permanent citizenship to the particular island.

    According to Municipality Laws and Regulations, any citizen to get the benefit of citizenship in another island, the person should live in the particular island for 5 calendar years!

    Hah hah haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

    The "Raees" of the Municipality (who unfortunately happened to Former Minister, Mr. Umar Zahir in the last government who as "Raees" of the Municipality convened this! Is he not powerful!

    Under these circumstances would it not be wiser if someone could think of a catalyst to quicken the ongoing process of cracking, over population, traffic jams, etc. etc.

    Wasting time on these lengthy and painstaking arguments to and fro as perhaps they all have been doing over the past decade including these one and half year!

    I would rather think that Dr. Mohamed Ali could not choose a better and proper time to surface with this subject after knowing and being there in the past and present!

    The time is right! The temperament is good to start proving that this government has not, cannot and will not be able to "SAVE", Male' unless these "DOCTORS" come to HELP and "SAVE THE MALDIVE ISLANDS"!

    Oh my Gooooooooooooooooooooooord!

  13. God forbid, One good quake on the Indian plate is enough to bring down Male'.

  14. Hahaha..Waheedh nice go..mind telling the public & me what Maumoon has given me?. Singapore is open for anyone who can work/earn & contribute, but not for those who wants spoon fed by social welfare. By the way this is a very seriouse subject and need not politicised and change direction.

  15. My island home is ready for one Male' family. Rent 20,000 per month. Advance 1 million rufiyaa.

  16. The country is morally and financially bankrupt with under half a million people. Imagine the state of this place, when the population reaches 3/4 million or more!

  17. All the balme should go on the previous regime of dictator Gayyoom. He has been very greedy and irresponsible of the whole beautiful country of the Maldives. All what Gayyoom did was accumulate wealth by oppressing the people. He did this by not making good urban plans where you've got the country organised in a decentralised one with provinces. All Gayyoom did was accumulate one third of the population to Male' which ultimately had to built more taller buildings to cater for the over populous city. This in turn, simply, added too much weight and now parts of the slope is about to slide. Also it was Gayyoom who have balsted many of the country's reefs with dianamites - wow - (who with a sane mind would blow up coral reefs with devices designed to blow up hill rocs on mountains???). And I laugh at the people of the Maldives when they're not pondering to the recently passed bill of decetralisation by the same Gayyoom's ex-regime (who're now the opposion MPs in the parliament.) Maldivians simply cannot think any futher than their 'own noses'. My advise to the people of the Maldives is to have long term visions and planing. This goes to the laymen and to the so called (and most of the time over proud) Maldivian gradutates who think they're the 'best' in the whole world. Think again - I should say to them. Don't get mad at me or someone who tells you to come to your senses.


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