Thilafushi closed for clean-up as ‘garbage island’ overflows

Male’ City Council has banned waste dumping at Thilafushi, commonly known as ‘garbage island’, until the current overflow has been cleaned up and boats can access the appropriate dumping areas.

“We decided to ban all the parties from dumping waste until we draft regulations and devise policies on dumping waste,” Councillor Ibrahim Shujau told Haveeru News yesterday.

He explained that parties bringing waste from place other than Male’ would be allowed to dump in designated areas only after a cleaning operation had been carried out and new regulations published.

Minivan News was unable to reach Shujau at time of press.

Tourism Ministry Deputy Director General Moosa Zameer Hassan said the temporary closure “can’t go on for long,” and hopes to re-open the area by the weekend. “But boats will be monitored to ensure they follow procedures,” he added.

Hassan said “waste being brought to the site is not properly put into the collection area–many boats are impatient so they dump their waste outside of the designated area. Now boats cannot access the collection area.”

Thilafushi accommodates only a few boats at a time for dumping. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) director Ibrahim Naeem earlier said that limited capacity was pushing boats to break the rules.

“The mechanism for waste collection and disposal needs to be improved,” he said previously. “The EPA has to do some work on the matter, and the people who are bringing in the garbage and contributing to its buildup also need to take responsibility.”

Naeem today reiterated that the solution lay with management.

“The City Council has to be more active in getting the necessary equipment and budget to manage waste disposal,” said, adding that boats should also be more patient even in queues one to two hours long.

This is the third time in three months that reports of free-flowing waste have come out of Thilafushi, Naeem notes. Hassan said transferring Thilafushi management to the City Council as per the Decentralisation Act has affected operations.

While City Council does not have sufficient capacity to fully support Thilafushi operations, solutions including splitting the cost of waste operations and utilities among users have been agreed upon. They will be implemented at a later date.

Naeem said an Indian company had been contracted to manage waste disposal, and had submitted its Environmental Impact Assessment. “But we don’t know when that will start. There are deadlines, but I think [the council] is a bit behind,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Council is trying to manage the situation effectively in the short-term.

Among the parties implicated for the waste overflow were resorts, which lean heavily on Thilafushi’s services.

“Right now the issue is about management at Thilafushi,” said Hassan. “Of course there are issues with resorts but they are indirect, such as with transfer boats from outsourced parties.”

Hassan said that tourism regulations require resorts to have an Insinkerator system, a bottle crusher and compactor, and a long-term oil storage system. “Most resorts have the mechanisms but few use them,” he said. “Up until lately Thilafushi has worked well, so there was less incentive to operate their own machinery.”

Incinerators create smoke, and operating the machines is high-cost and highly specialised, Hassan explained. Resorts generally crush and condense waste, but “it’s not a total solution, it’s a step towards on-site management. Thilafushi is the ultimate destination,” he said.

The ministry today met with concerned parties, and enacted plans for immediate clean-up and to re-start operations. The EPA and the Environmental Ministry have agreed on the need to restore waste management operations as as soon as possible.

The clean-up operations will be overseen by Thilafushi Corporation and the city council.


12 thoughts on “Thilafushi closed for clean-up as ‘garbage island’ overflows”

  1. We have 60 million people in the UK,and you never see scenes like this.There are 1/4 million people in the Maldives and this happens time after time..With all due respect>>is it not time to get some professional recycling company involved,even if it has to be subsidised..

  2. There was a waste regulation drafted, no? also standards for waste transportation etc? where is it..

  3. Its already contracted out to an Indian company which is funded by the world bank

  4. The delicate environment of Maldives is in need of a responsible waste management system. It is a big challenge given the geographical situation where each island including resorts must manage its own waste. According to the regulation laid out by the Tourism Ministry each resort must have a functioning waste management facility on each resort and should have functioning machinery such as incinerators, compactors and glass crushers. With the help of these machines, the resorts should be able to contain to get rid of their waste without having to dump to Thialfushi lagoon.

  5. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the size of Texas...lets ignore that; and pick on a small developing nation. unfortunately we dont have tthe massive resources that UK has

  6. the reason why you dont see this in the west is because of a thing called E-Waste, where the rich countries very smartly dump their waste problems on poor countries.
    "E-waste is routinely exported by developed countries to developing ones, often in violation of the international law. Inspections of 18 European seaports in 2005 found as much as 47 percent of waste destined for export, including e-waste, was illegal. In the UK alone, at least 23,000 metric tonnes of undeclared or 'grey' market electronic waste was illegally shipped in 2003 to the Far East, India, Africa and China. In the US, it is estimated that 50-80 percent of the waste collected for recycling is being exported in this way. This practice is legal because the US has not ratified the Basel Convention."

    colonialism obviously still exists in a different from

  7. but good point larry, we should think about getting some consultants from the UK, and think about a away to dump our waste problem on someone else

  8. This is a wise decision by the City Council. I truly hope that all parties will take the necessary action to implement and enforce safe waste disposal policy at Thilafushi, Male and all other the inhabited islands. The future well being of the country's stunning, but fragile coral reef ecosystem and the growing tourism industry depends on proper waste management.


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