A Sri Lankan Air Force flight is currently on its way to the Maldives from Singapore with custom built panels to replace the damaged panel boards connecting electricity generators and desalination plants at the Malé Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC).
The capital Malé was plunged into crisis on Thursday (December 4) as a fire at MWSC gutted the desalination plant, leaving 130,000 people without running water, leading to the dwindling of bottled drinking water supplies.
Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim said the two boards will arrive in Malé tonight. Of the nine panel boards, five were functional on Monday and MWSC had started releasing water to households in two three-hour periods in the morning and at night.
However, residents living above the second floor of buildings have said they only receive water for a very short period of time. The MWSC has asked individuals to report issues with water leakages and booster pumps to send an SMS to 1050 with the client’s name and water meter number.
Previously, the government rejected an offer by the Indian government to provide technical assistance in fixing the panels, saying it is seeking assistance from countries that are more technologically advanced.
The government has today announced it has received US$ 5.5 (MVR 84 million) for the ‘Malé water crisis management fund.’
The crisis management fund – which has seen donations from several local corporations and foreigners – was set up by the government with an aim of collecting US$ 20 million (MVR 308 million) to repair the damages at the desalination plant and to fund relief efforts.
Notable local businesses such as Champa Group and Universal enterprises donated US$ 100,000 to the fund, while an unnamed Saudi Arabian donor provided US$ 1 million.
Telecomms company Ooredoo donated US$ 75,000 to the fund. Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) and State Trading Organization (STO) have also donated funds.
Anti-corruption NGO Transparency Maldives called on the government to display more transparency in order to avoid “economic and political repercussions stemming from the water crisis”.
In a press statement, the NGO urged the government to provide a breakdown of the estimated US$ 20 million needed to overcome the crisis and how the government intends to spend it.
“Furthermore, the decision to seek donations from the public raises questions given that MWSC ins a private profit-making corporation with 80 percent government shares,” said Transparency Maldives.
An Indian flight is also due to arrive today with 50 tons of water while the INS Deepak supplied 400 tons of water straight to MWSC tanks on top of the 1250 supplied two days ago.
Indian High Commission said today that the water relief operations resumed on the request of the Maldivian government.
Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) also criticized the fund stating that the government should only demand US$ 20 million after they have decided how it is going to be spent.
“Where is the money going to go to? Why have we not seen a breakdown on how the money is going to be spent? Will this be a new ring in the chain of corruption by the government?” questioned party Vice Chairperson Ali Niyaz.
Former President and opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed has also called for an inquiry into the fire, suggesting that the Danish government previously recommended keeping 21 days of water reserves in the capital.
Transparency Maldives noted that the crisis had demonstrated “the interminable relationship between good governance and citizens’ right to essential human needs,” and called for greater regulation of state-owned enterprises.
With 130,000 citizens of the capital left without water, the government has said it could take up to two weeks to fully repair the damage. President Abdulla Yameen has said that there could have been no back up plan for a “disaster of this magnitude”.