New office space offered to Malé city council office by the government is infested with rats and fungus, says deputy mayor Shifa Mohamed.
The housing minister ordered the opposition-dominated council last week to vacate the city hall building at Galolhu Billoorijehige and move to smaller offices at the Huravee building within seven days.
Shifa told Minivan News today that the council has shared numerous concerns regarding safety and hygiene with the civil service commission.
“There is fungus on the walls of the building. The building has a pungent smell and there are rats and rat holes everywhere,” she said.
Nearly 60 civil service staff at the council have filed a petition at commission, saying the building is unfit for office work.
The city hall takeover was the latest incident in a long-running power struggle between the ministry and the council. Earlier this year, the ministry transferred a third of the council’s employees to the ministry.
Shifa said the council has asked the ministry for an extension of the seven-day deadline for the move, but is yet to receive a response.
“The ministry is not responding to any political staff at the city council,” she said.
Services provided to the public could be interrupted if the ministry does not grant an extension, she added.
Local media observed cracks on the walls, several rat holes and waste leaking onto the carpet floor of the new office.
Civil service commission president Dr Mohamed Latheef declined to comment on the state of the building until the council officially requests for assistance.
“We do not want to get involved with the matter,” he said.
However, he assured assistance and an inquiry as soon as the council officially files a complaint.
The letter evicting the council from city hall was signed by acting housing minister Thoriq Ibrahim.
The ministry also ordered the council to hand over the compound building the Billoorijehige building and the local market.
Thoriq said the cabinet had decided on April 19 that the building was better suited for government offices.
The housing ministry did not consult the council on the issue before the decision, and Shifa claimed the lack of communication “was enough proof that the cabinet’s decision was political.”
In November last year, the council was shut down after police confiscated several hard drives and documents saying the council was using the documents to gain “unlawful advantages.”
In October, masked individuals wielding machetes uprooted all of Malé City’s Areca palms. When the council attempted to replant the trees, the cabinet announced the council no longer had power over the city roads.
Shifa has previously suggested that the government was ‘destroying decentralisation’ after the housing ministry seized numerous plots of land from the council including two parks, the artificial beach, the carnival area, the south harbour area, Usfasgandu, Dharubaaruge, and the area near the T-Jetty.