Addu Atoll to become ‘city island’

Addu Atoll is to be considered a single administrative island to be developed as a city, following the outcome of the public referendum on Saturday, President Mohamed Nasheed announced yesterday.

Speaking to press at the President’s Office, Nasheed said that after official discussions with the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), the parties agreed to jointly propose amendments to the Decentralisation Act, based on the results of the referendum, and list administrative constituencies by October 17.

“When the islands are announced, there will be a major change to the largest atoll in the south, Addu Atoll” he said. “In my view, the results of the referendum showed very clearly that citizens of the atoll want to develop as a city. So we will designate Addu Atoll as one city island. Addu Atoll is an island with the districts Hithadhoo, Maradhoo-Feydhoo, Maradhoo, Hulhudhoo and Meedhoo.”

Instead of an atoll office, he continued, the southernmost atoll will have a municipality run by an elected municipal council.

With over 30,000 inhabitants, Addu Atoll is the second largest population centre in the country. However, as much as 60 percent of some islands currently reside in the capital Male’.

President Nasheed denied that the results and the low turnout was a failure of the government, as small islands rejected the government proposal for administrative consolidation with larger islands.

“In a democracy, if an election is seen as useless, there’s nothing I have to say about that,” he said.

Moreover, Nasheed argued that establishing a nationwide transport network was the government’s policy on population consolidation, as outlined in the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) manifesto, as opposed to “taking a population and settling them in another island.”

While the referendum revealed that small islands did not want to “lose their identity”, Nasheed said that a secret ballot was needed to determine the views of the electorate as he routinely received petitions from islanders requesting relocation.

According to official results, of 26,676 people who participated in the referendum, 8,402 voted in favour of the proposal while 16,695 voted against it.

However, of the six islands in Addu Atoll where voting took place, citizens of Hithadhoo, Maradhoo, Maradhoo-Feydhoo and Hulhudhoo endorsed the proposal, while islanders of Feydhoo and Meedhoo rejected it.


Storm in Addu Atoll causes floods, RF millions in damages

A storm has hit Addu causing islands to flood and severely damaging houses and property on several islands.

Addu Atoll Councilor Abdulla Sadiq said that Gan, Maradhu, Maradhufeydhoo and Feydhoo were flooded due to the torrential rain,’’ Sadiq said, adding that Feydhoo was the most severely damaged with almost 600 houses affected.

70 houses in Maradhufeydhoo and 10 houses in Maradhu were also damaged in the flood, according to Sadiq.

“Almost 80 percent of the houses in Feydhoo were damaged, including property, and some are now inadequate for living,’’ said Sadiq. “People have been forced to move to their relatives’ houses.’’

In Maradhufeydhoo all the computers in the island school, the school library and the school office were damaged, Sadiq said.

The weather forecast for the area showed steady rain for the next few days as well, he added.

“We are trying to drain the floodwaters and settle the situation,’’ he said.

Although Gan was also flooded, the island has a good drainage system and the streets will drain automatically, he added.

He also estimated that the damage was set to rise to millions of ruffiya.

Meanwhile, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Southern Area reported that the airport and airport office of Gan in Addu were damaged, including the computers and some furniture inside the office.

The MNDF is are now active on the flooded islands and trying to drain the floodwaters.

Deputy Director General of the National Meteorological Department Ali Shareef said the whole of the Maldives will experience heavy rain during the next 24 hours.

”North and central Maldives will experience strong winds and heavy rain,” said Shareef, adding that the Addu Atoll would likely be spared the strong winds and heavy rain that would affect other parts of the country.


Girl abducted, drugged, filmed and gang raped by 15 men on Hithadhu

A group of 15 men abducted, drugged and gang raped a 20 year old girl on the island of Hithadhu in Seenu Atoll last Friday night, while reportedly filming the incident wit a mobile phone.

Regional commander for Addu Atoll, Chief Inspector Hussein Adam, said three men had been arrested in connection with the attack, which occurred around 8:30pm on Friday night.

”Two men came by on a motorbike while she was outside her house, and forced her to sit between them,” Hussein said.

The two men took her to an uninhabited area on the island, 30 minutes walking distance from where she was abducted.

”The 15 men forced her to drink a suspected liquid drug and she became drunk,” Hussein said. ”They used box cutters to threaten her.”

Atoll Commander for Addu Adam Niyaz said police were informed of the incident at 1:00am on Saturday morning by the girl’s parents, after she returned home.

Police took the girl to Addu Regional Hospital. Hussein noted that she was “unable to walk.”

Head of Addu Regional Hospital Ahmed Mohamed said the girl was brought to the  hospital on Saturday was discharged yesterday.

”There were no injuries outside her body,” Ahmed said, ”but as she was sexually assaulted by 15 men her sex organs were injured during the incident.”

Niyaz said the three men arrested in connection with attack had many police records involving drug offences and gang-related crimes.

He said Hithadhu police station was continuing to investigate the case.