President Mohamed Nasheed presented documents of guarantee yesterday to ten recipients of flats in Hulhumale’ under the first phase of the “Veshi Fahi” Male’ de-congestion programme.
The documents were presented at a ceremony to open the new “Veshi Fahi” Male’ office to applicants under category A of the programme in exchange for small plots in the capital.
Speaking at the ceremony, Male’ City Councillor “Sarangu” Adam Manik, director of the Veshi Fahi programme, explained that the project was launched on November 10, 2010 to ease congestion in the capital and develop the Greater Male’ Region, composed of Hulhumale’, Vili-Male’, Thilafushi industrial island and Gulhifalhu.
“During the 30 years of the previous government, 682 plots [were awarded] in Male’ and Viligili and 1,060 flats were built in Male’ and Hulhumale’,” he said. “In the 30 months of the MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party] government, 500 plots were chosen from Hulhumale’ and the practical work of awarding 250 of those flat has begun today.”
Construction has meanwhile begun on 1,566 flats, Manik continued, including 1,000 housing units and 178 ‘Coral Ville’ flats in Hulhumale’ as well as 198 flats in Gaakoshi, 50 flats in Odeon and 90 flats in the old Arabiyya School site.
“For all these flats, construction is currently underway,” he said, inviting skeptics to “see for yourself.”
In his remarks at the ceremony, President Nasheed explained that Category A involves clearing small plots in Male’ “for planting trees or [to use] as a parking area or to clear the space for playing chess, cards or putting up a basket hoop or a dart board or to keep a rubbish bin.”
Nasheed observed that “like most new ideas we proposed” not many people supported the programme or believed it could be successful.
As concentration of one-third of the country’s population in Male’ has given rise to severe congestion and a host of social problems, Nasheed said that it was “absolutely necessary to find some way for the people of Male’.”
Approximately 125,000 people are believed to reside in about 16,000 households in Male’; the total number of households in the Maldives is estimated to be 46,000.
“That is a very small number considering the number of people who live in Male’,” he said. “Therefore we need to build more houses. We believe that the household is the main engine of development.”
Providing affordable housing was one of five key campaign pledges in the ruling party’s manifesto.
Nasheed meanwhile said that residents of Male’ who had mistakenly applied under Category A although they did not possess small plots for exchange would be carried over to the second category when applications are processed.
He added that winners of the 250 plots in Hulhumale’ designated for Category A applicants would also receive a housing loan from the Housing Development Corporation.
President Nasheed said that he expected construction of 500 flats in Male’ to completed within a year.
The government was presently conducting assessments and feasibility studies to connect the islands of Thilafushi, Gulhifalhu, Vilimale’, Male’ and Hulhumale’, Nasheed revealed.
“As you know, in a multi-party political system, there will be people who will try to argue the other side and show that it cannot be done,” he said.
“That is the way it should be. That is how we can build a good democracy. However [for the opposition to] muddle laws and attempt inside the People’s Majlis to obstruct these projects would be regrettable. I hope the people of the Maldives, and especially the people of Male’, will encourage their MPs to help us do this.”
Using a phrase coined by the opposition to mock his repeated pledges to build flats, Nasheed concluded his remarks by saying, “I am flat Dhonbe (elder brother).”