Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu has revealed plans to replace the Dharubaaruge convention center with a new facility.
Speaking with local news outlet Haveeru, Dr Muizzu explained that the ministry’s development plan will consist of two phases – the first involving renovation to the current premises while bidding is opened for a new facility.
This phase is to be followed by the eventual construction of a new convention center on the same site, explained the minister.
“Since there isn’t another place like Dharubaaruge in Malé city, we are trying to renovate the place without closing it down, by dividing the work into two phases. That would make this easier,” he told Haveeru.
The announcement follows the takeover of the facility by the central government earlier this month after repeated wrangling over ownership of the premises over the past two years.
Police moved in to enforce the central government’s reclamation of the premises from Malé City Council after a cabinet decision in late March.
Council members were reportedly told that the government was taking charge of the center as it was not being adequately maintained, though the council – reliant on central government funding – claimed it had not received the requested maintenance budget.
The Dharubaaruge takeover is the latest in an ongoing dispute between the ministry and opposition-dominated council regarding ownership of land in the capital city.
Originally built for the 5th SAARC summit in 1990 — Dharubaaruge is rented out for events, press conferences and private functions.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed handed the center over to the city council with the establishment of a local government system in 2011.