Jamaaludheen building unsafe, says Housing Minister

The Jamaaludheen building being used by the Maldives National University (MNU) is unsafe for students, says the Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr Mohamed Muizzu.

Speaking today at a joint press conference with the Ministry of Education, Dr Muizzu said that many risk assessments had been undertaken regarding the safety of the building in recent years, deeming the building unsafe.

“Cosmetic work has been done in the building to cover up these damages,” he said. “It is very irresponsible of certain individuals to say that the building is safe when it clearly is not. The building is not structurally stable from an engineering perspective.”

Last week, the President’s Office requested that police vacate the premises within seven days, prompting concerned responses from the university, the student union, and the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

A subsequent statement released last week by MNU read that the sudden decision to vacate the premises is not viable without a building to move into, and that the university is saddened by the fact that the decision will halt the education of many students.

Dr Muizzu this morning shared pictures from an assessment done in 2013 which showed severely corroded and damaged columns in the building, which is currently used by over 1,300 university students.

However, Dr Muizzu reiterated claims previously put forward by the President’s Office saying that several alternative plots of land had been offered to the university, and that the university had not responded to them.

“We offered various plots of land to the university in recent years,” explained Dr Muizzu. “The university was even offered large spaces in the Hulhumalé development second phase and at Gulhifalhu as well.

Also speaking at the press conference, Minister of Education Dr Aishath Shiham urged all concerned stakeholders to engage in discussion to solve the matter in order to protect the interest of current students.

Dr Shiham stated that the government is currently holding discussions with the management of the university, expressing confidence that the matter will be resolved by February 19.

“The university is a place run on the government budget, for the purposes of further developing our education system. Therefore, we should all be working on this matter together and our biggest concern should be protecting the rights of the students,” she concluded.

The opposition MDP expressed concern last week regarding the matter saying that the students are scared and are in need of answers after hearing police were going to clear the building.

“These students are unsure as to whether they could return to their classrooms they have been studying in,” said MDP Education Committee Chair Dr Luthfee, who served as the minister of education during MDP’s administration.

Dr Luthfee also expressed concern at the situation of the private Mandhu College, which has seen an exodus of students following an eviction notice from the education ministry. The college has refuted claims it has breached the terms of its lease.

The Education Ministry has been met with firm criticism in recent weeks, with Teacher’s Association of Maldives (TAM) president Athif Abdul Hakeem alleging the ministry of intimidation and opposition accusing the ministry of interfering with higher education institutions.

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