Construction of flats in Hulhumalé for police officers will begin during March, President Abdulla Yameen said yesterday during a visit to the Iskandhar Koshi headquarters.
According to police media, President Yameen said at the meeting that resolving housing issues for police personnel in Malé and the atolls was a high priority of his administration.
“Speaking in this vein, the president said construction work in the project for providing housing to police will begin during March with God’s will,” police media revealed.
President Yameen said he has personally witnessed the “difficult conditions” that officers were working in the atolls, adding that the government would “prioritise finding an adequate solution” and would strengthen police welfare mechanisms.
In a visit to the Kalhuthukala Koshi military barracks two days ago, Yameen also pledged to provide housing for soldiers. He reportedly urged soldiers to respect the military’s discipline, code of honour and the dignity of the uniform.
The executive will work with the next parliament to pass legislation needed for policing and provide support to police efforts for establishing a safe and peaceful environment for citizens, he told police officers yesterday.
President Yameen also expressed gratitude to police officers as well as their families for their “patient and hard work” in the face of political unrest during last year’s presidential election.
The president was greeted upon arrival at the police barracks by Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed, Deputy Commissioner Ahmed Saudhy and “a large number of police,” whom he then joined for evening tea.
“During the president’s visit, he met police officers individually and spent a long time at Iskandhar Koshi. And he offered an opportunity for police officers with queries for him to pose questions and answered their questions,” police said.
In September 2013, the previous administration awarded 300 flats to police officers under a housing project to be carried out jointly by the government-owned Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and the Police Cooperative Society (POLCO).
Under the MVR580 million (US$37.6 million) ‘Blue’s Housing Project,’ 210 three-bedroom and 90 two-bedroom apartments were to be constructed in Hulhumale’.
In addition to the housing project, then-President Dr Mohamed Waheed awarded 50 flats to senior police and military officers.
The awarding of 300 flats to police officers was criticised by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) as a continuation of the patronage system established during the 30-year reign of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
“In the light of extensive exposes, such ‘patronage’ is familiar to voters from the single party dictatorship of Gayoom and I believe they will simply say to each other ‘I told you so’,” MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News at the time.
Ghafoor said it was “very concerning” that police should be given flats exclusively instead of teachers, doctors and other civil servants. He also questioned the selection process for awarding flats.
While some of the officers may have deserved the housing, there was concern that some officers involved in the alleged “coup d’etat” on February 7 had been rewarded with flats, Ghafoor claimed.
Since the controversial transfer of presidential power that brought Dr Waheed to office in February 2012 – in the wake of a violent police mutiny instigated by officers of the Special Operations (SO) command – more than 1000 police officers were promoted, 110 new police officers were hired, arrangements were made for cheap accommodation in Sri Lanka for police officers and their families and a loan scheme was set up for police officers.