Japan has today gifted the Maldives ¥100,000,000 (US$840,000) in grant aid, while Japanese company Hitachi has pledged MVR1 million (US$64,800) to the ‘Malé Water Crisis fund’.
During an official ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this morning, Maldives foreign minister Dunya Maumoon and Japanese Ambassador Nobuhito Hobo signed the grant agreement.
Both Hobo and Hitachi Executive Vice President Junzo Najazima also visited President Abdulla Yameen to inform him of the company’s contribution to the relief fund established during this month’s water crisis in the Maldives’ capital.
The President’s Office reported that Junzo was in Malé as part of a team sent to inspect the fire damage to the Malé Water and Sewerage Company’s (MWSC) desalination plants – which left 130,000 people without running water earlier this month.
Hitachi purchased 20 percent of MWSC’s shares in 2010, with its corporate website explaining that it has since played a role in improving the company’s operations. The Maldives government still retains 80 percent of the company.
President Yameen is said to have discussed the recovery efforts with his visitors, which the controversial US$20 million fund is said to be contributing towards.
“President Yameen underscored the Government’s commitment to find a total solution to the issue, and to establish a fallback system for future emergencies,” reported the President’s Office today.
After being announced by Minister of Defence Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim, the fund was criticised by civil society groups as well as the political opposition for a perceived lack of transparency, with the government’s task force stating that the use of the fund had not yet been determined.
Details of a 20,000 tonnes storage facility as well as reimbursement for relief efforts later emerged. 24 hour running water was resumed, and relief efforts halted, last weekend.
The Chinese government as well as private donors from the Maldives and Saudi Arabia have already contributed to the fund, while naval ships from India, China, and Bangladesh delivered fresh water during the crisis.
During his state visit to Japan in April this year, Yameen met with the president of Hitachi, thanking the company for its for its cooperation with the State Trading Organisation and for its interest in energy-related projects in the Maldives.
The Japan International Cooperation (JICA) – Japan’s overseas development assistance, oversaw projects worth US$450 million to the Maldives in development assistance between 2004 and 2010.
Projects benefiting from Japanese aid have included the first mechanisation of fishing vessels between 1973-76, the development of Malé’s seawall between 1987-2003, and the extension of loans amounting to US$34 million for post-tsunami reconstruction.
In May, JICA completed the ‘Project for Clean Energy Promotion in Malé’ with the installation of the last of 740 solar panels which were installed in 12 government buildings under the US$11.1 million (MVR141.5 million) grant aid solar energy project launched in December 2011.
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