MCC laying pipes to prevent further flooding

Malé City Council (MCC) began laying underground pipes in the capital to prevent the persisent flooding of certain areas of the capital during rain showers.

Malé City Deputy Mayor Shifa Mohamed told Minivan News that the pipes are being laid with assistance from Malé Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC) at the areas worst affected by floods during bad weather.

“This is not permanent solution, but we believe that the pipes which are being laid underground will temporarily prevent severe flooding,” said Shifa.

Many major roads in the capital were severely flooded last Thursday (October 30) after a heavy downpour, disrupting transportation with much of the south-west of the 6km sq island left under water – a foot high in many places.

Shifa blamed poor planning and lack of maintenance as the lead cause in the flooding while stating that the drains on the sides of the roads have not been emptied in over 25 years.


Malé floods made worse due to poor condition of roads, says Malé deputy mayor

Malé City Council Deputy Mayor Shifa Mohamed says that controlling today’s floods (October 30) is made more difficult with the current condition of the capital’s roads.

Shifa told Minivan News that poor planning and a lack of maintenance had exacerbated the floods occurring across Malé City today (October 30) after heavy downpours in the morning and the afternoon.

“The drains on the sides of the roads have not been properly emptied for over 25 years. There are all sorts of junk in the drains which is clogging up the drainage system leading to floods with the slightest bit of rain,” said Shifa.

Many major roads in the the capital are currently flooded disrupting transportation with much of the south-west of the 6km sq island under water – rising a foot high in many places.

Te department of meteorology has explained that 58 millimeters of rain were recorded in the capital during two hours this morning.

The MET office predicts heavy rain in the next two days. However, wind speeds are expected to be moderate.

Local media reported that police vehicles were being used to transport students, left stranded across the city, to and from the schools.

Communications were also affected, with heavy thunder this morning damaging Dhiraagu and Television Maldives equipment, leading  to network problems and delays in the broadcast from of the state television channel.

Shifa said that the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) is assisting the council with draining the water by setting up pumps at locations most severely affected by the floods.

“We have also diverted half of our waste management team to assist the MNDF in controlling the floods and requested assistance from the National Disaster Management Centre,” explained Shifa.

The deputy mayor accused the government of having misplaced priorities, referring to the planned Malé-Hulhulé bridge project. Shifa argued that the residents of Malé do not need a bridge connecting them with the airport while the roads are in such a condition.

She also stressed the importance of reaching a mutual understanding with the government and the city council regarding the roads, urging collective efforts to repair the roads.

Malé City Council – dominated by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – was  formed by the 2010 Decentralisation Act – has experienced fraught relations with the central government since the fall of the MDP government in 2012.

Mayor Mohamed Shihab has complained that the main difficulty facing the council is obtaining the resources required to manage the rapidly expanding city.

Last week the council complained that is had not been informed before the cancellation of an agreement with Indian firm Tatva to to provide waste management services in the capital Malé and nearby areas.


Authorities on alert for further flooding as heavy rainfall forecast to ease

The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) has warned more atolls could be affected by severe flooding that has damaged property and threatened ground water supplies on 24 inhabited islands across the Maldives over the last few days.

A NDMC spokesperson today told Minivan News that it was still assessing the level and cost of damage caused by heavy rains and strong winds that have slammed parts of the country, identifying ensuring clean water supplies as the most pressing challenge facing authorities at present.

The adverse weather has been linked to low pressure resulting from cyclone Nilam, which had been active in the Bay of Bengal.

However, disaster management officials said that the situation in the country had not changed drastically since yesterday, with no more islands as yet suffering from severe floods. Fears about the spread of diseases resulting from contaminated ground water have also so far proved unfounded, authorities have claimed.

Police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers along with government authorities and local councils are presently continuing efforts to ensure the public are provided with sufficient drinking water and other vital supplies.  Authorities are also said to have begun trying to assess the levels of damage from the flooding.

The government has itself announced that MVR 10 million had now been made available from a contingency component in the national budget to provide what it called “immediate relief” to stricken islands in need of supplies such as pillows, blankets, sheets and foods.

President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza today said that although the MVR 10 million provided by the Majlis would not be sufficient to cover the total damages sustained from the adverse weather, the funding was expected to ensure vital cleaning supplies and other items could be provided to stricken islands.

“Right now we understand that the [weather] forecast is expected to improve and we anticipate that the MVR10 million is sufficient to provide immediate relief like pillows and bed sheets, which are the main items damaged in flooding,” he said.

Abbas said that authorities were preparing to begin assessing the full extend of the damage from the adverse weather, but added that this process might not be completed for a few weeks.

Monsoon rain

The Maldives Meteorological Department meanwhile has said that the severe weather patterns resulting from the cyclone – which had now weakened – appeared to have eased to normal rainfall levels experienced in the country during the annual southwest monsoon or “wet season”.

Met Office Spokesperson Ali Shareef told Minivan News that while rainfall was still expected in the country’s central and southern regions, it would not be in the “extraordinary” levels that had fallen earlier in the week.  Shareef added that forecasts had predicted that the adverse weather patterns would begin to clear by the end of Friday (November 2).


Of the 24 inhabited islands reported to have been adversely affected by heavy rain this week, Hoarafushi in Haa Alif atoll is deemed by the NDMC to have been most severely affected.

As of yesterday, 95 households were reported to have been flooded, affecting an “estimated 600 people.”

Disaster Management Centre Project Officer Hisan Hassan, present on the island today, said that heavy rains now appeared to have cleared up despite ever present cloud. The MNDF and other authorities had also begun a chlorination process on the island.

Hassan added that supplies of flour and sugar had also been received with “beneficiaries lists” presently being drawn up by authorities before they begin distribution. Flooded homes had also since been cleared of water, while the the island had not appeared to have suffered any significant “structural damages”.

Hassan claimed that due to the flooding, septic tank systems on the island, as well as ground water and wells, had been contaminated.

“It will likely take a few days for water to be drinkable,” he said. “Every house has been provided with two five litre bottles of water to meet demand.”

Hassan added that operations on the island were ultimately returning to “normal” with no severe injuries being reported by health officials.

“The health centre here is also ready in case a situation arises concerning outbreaks of disease,” he added.

Heavy rains that started in the late afternoon on Monday caused flooding of up to five feet, according to police. Thick torrential rains that started around 4:30pm on Monday reportedly lasted non-stop until dawn on Tuesday.

The MNDF Northern Area Command meanwhile launched efforts in collaboration with island councils on Monday to pump water from the affected northern islands, including Haa Alif Baarah and Haa Dhaal Hanimadhoo in addition to Hoarafushi.  Hoarafushi, one the of the northernmost islands in the Maldives, has a population of over 2,000 people.


Comment: Corruption must not taint PK relief funds

I was responsible for looking after one of the largest disaster programmes in the Maldives following the tsunami.

I was one of the members in the decision making body of Action Aid International of a 30 million pound Tsunami Rehabilitation and Reconstruction multi-country programme in Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, Indonesia and Somaliland.

Immediately after tsunami, I went with UNDP teams, Oxfam, Red Cross and other disaster teams to conduct initial disaster assessments. It was a time consuming, trying process to assess the damage done by the tsunami and identify the needs of people.

No group of people, community or country wanted the same things. It was hectic, tiring and required extensive development to help the survivors.

I wonder why the PK Relief fund is deliberating and has announced it will be sending a there member team to Pakistan. They were careful to announce that they will not spend money from the PK Relief funds for the visit, but in same breath they said that they will raise funds for the visit to Pakistan.

This sounds same thing to me – they will be using the name of the PK Relief fund to raise funds, which is akin to spending PK Relief money. I think this is a waste of resources and energy as the money should be donated to the Government of Pakistan.

Providing disaster relief is a technical and difficult task, and requires experts to conduct a disaster assessment. The processes require conducting an assessment of the damage, identifying the needs of the people as well as the infrastructure.

It’s futile to think that a team who has no knowledge and understanding of the country, the extent of damage, the culture and the people can decided on what or where to donate.

The best experts will be the Government of Pakistan or the international parties who are already on the ground in Pakistan evaluating the situation of the floods, such as the UN, Pakistan Red Crescent, Pakistan Action Aid or others. Another possibility is through the Maldivian High Commission based in Pakistan – all these agencies are based in Pakistan and would have firsthand knowledge.

Maldives do not require a team from PK Relief Fund to go to Pakistan.

What PK Fund should plan is how to keep track of how the fund is being spent. Monitor and request whether the funding has reached to the neediest. PK fund can make the Government of Pakistan accountable through good governance and monitoring mechanisms.

Publish the information received from Government of Pakistan and international stakeholders, making it accessible to the citizens of the Maldives at regular intervals, after donating the funds.

I would advise the PK Relief not send a team to Pakistan and hand over the money to the Ambassador of Pakistan. I would also request a public outcry against this proposed action by the PK relief fund Committee, for contemplating such disastrous action on behalf of the Maldivians who donated the funds without expert knowledge of the issue.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Government to budget for sustainable flood prevention

Next year’s national budget will include funds for a sustainable flood prevention programme, President Mohamed Nasheed has said.

Addressing the nation in his weekly radio address, President Nasheed said some islands in the south were prone to flooding in the rainy season due to poor drainage and sewerage systems. Next year’s budget will allocate funds to tackle the issue, he said.

“In [Seenu] Feydhoo and [Gaaf Dhaal] Thinadhoo as well if we are unable to complete work on a drainage system and sewers sustainably with a long-term plan, we will see flooding every rainy season and features that we do not want to see among us,” he said. “Therefore, God willing, my aim is to try and find a permanent solution.”

Among accidents reported at sea during the past week, a safari vessel ran into a reef near Meemu Mulaku and a ferry from Thilafushi carrying tin capsized at the Male’ southwest harbour entrance.

Moreover, heavy flooding caused power blackouts and damages to property in Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo and Addu Atoll Hithadhoo.

According to the Department of Meteorology, the heavy rainfall of the southwest monsoon is set to continue to the end of the month.

Speaking on the subject of civil service reform, President Nasheed said discussions were still ongoing between the government and the Civil service Commission on restoring civil service salaries to previous levels, streamlining the civil service, and establishing administrative framework for local councils.