Distribution of free water will stop today in the capital Malé, says the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), as the water crisis nears an end.
After a fire in the Malé Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC) on December 4 left the capital’s 130,000 inhabitants without running water, 24 hour service was resumed to homes yesterday.
An MNDF spokesman confirmed to Minivan News today that the mobile units had ceased operation, and that distribution of bottled water from 10 designated points in the city would stop today.
The Maldives Red Crescent – which has played a key role in relief efforts – has also confirmed that its operations have shut down.
“We have closed down our operations centre as things are more or less back to normal,” explained Senior Programme Officer Fathimath Himya.
Minister of Defence Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim – who leads the president’s water crisis task force – told the media on Thursday night that full services would be resumed for three days in order to test the repairs.
“The water treatment plant is functioning on a temporary setup,” Haveeru reported Nazim as saying. “But we must ask you to not stress the water supply and manage by making some adjustments”.
Custom built panel boards arrive in the Maldives from Singapore on Wednesday via a Sri Lankan Air Force flight.
Sri Lanka has been among a number of international donors who have provided bottled water and desalination facilities over the past 8 days – most notably India which was first to respond, sending military aircraft with fresh supplies within 24 hours of the fire.
The Bangladeshi naval ship Samudra Joy became the third vessel to arrive in Malé on Thursday (December 11), joining the Indian and Chinese ships already docked near Malé’s main port.
While Nazim had announced on Wednesday (December 10) that free water would no longer be distribute as stocks returned to local shops, long lines continued to be seen around the capital on Friday evening.
The crisis has raised questions regarding the city’s preparedness for such an instance, although President Abdulla Yameen has described the situation as unforeseeable.
During the crisis, Yameen’s task force revealed it was to seeking US$20million in donations to the ‘Malé water crisis management fund’.
After the opposition and civil society groups expressed concerns over the lack of detail regarding the fund, Nazim explained on Wednesday that it would cover the uninsured costs of relief efforts as well as the construction of the 20,000 ton water reserve.
The President’s Office explained earlier this week that MWSC plants produce 20,000 tonnes of water per day at full capacity, while the population of Malé consumed around 14,000 tonnes per day.
The government has revealed that private donors have contributed US$5.5million to the fund so far, pledging to disclose full details of fund. China is reported to have donated to the fund, as well as private donors from Saudi Arabia and from within the Maldives.
Both the UN in Maldives and the Human Rights Commission of Maldives have commended the government’s response to the situation, though the opposition has called for a full inquiry into the causes of the crisis.
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