Power shortages may affect plans to light up Malé on Independence Day

Power shortages may spoil the government’s plans to light up the capital Malé City on Independence Day, the State Electric Company (STELCO) has said.

A crucial 8MW generator is down at the power plant due to an unexpected failure and may take up to two weeks to repair.

Ibrahim Rauf, the STELCO spokesperson, said the company may have to cut off power intermittently at different areas in Malé due to the generator failure. It is one of the two 8MW generators at the power plant. There are a number of smaller power generators.

“The lights alone will use around 2.5 MW of electricity from our grid. We are very concerned and saddened because the lights may also suffer due to the power cuts,” said Rauf.

The Supreme Court, the President’s Office, the smoke stacks at the power plant, the foreign ministry and numerous government buildings have been decked from the ground floor to the top in red, green and white LED lights.

Maldives is celebrating 50 years of independence from the British on July 26.

Malé uses 46MW of electricity on average, but the amount could go up to 52MW at peak hours or on dry and humid days. Rauf said he expects electricity demand to be high on Independence Day, but stressed that only some areas will suffer power cuts, meaning most of the buildings in Malé will continue to be lit-up.

“The demand for electricity depends a lot on the weather. If we have wet cold weather then people would not use air-conditioners and electricity demand will be reduced,” he said.

It has been raining on and off in Malé this weekend, but July 26 is expected to be dry, according to weather forecasts.

Power cuts will last only one hour at high demand periods, and will be spread out in different areas of Malé, Rauf said. STELCO is yet to determine the cause of the generator failure.

The government is planning grand celebrations to mark Independence Day, including a parade by the army and school brass bands, reopening of public parks with water fountains, an official function at the Usfasgandu area with more than 100 foreign dignitaries, official games at the national stadium, and a football tournament in the atolls.

The government has not yet disclosed the full program for the day.

Several areas at Male’s waterfront have meanwhile been closed off as the government rushes to complete major renovation projects including a new official jetty and a musical water fountain at the Republic Square before July 26.

Finance minister Abdulla Jihad previously told Minivan News the budget was MVR150 million (US$9.7million).


Malé water supply cut after fire at MWSC

Malé Water and Sewerages Company (MWSC) has cut off all water supplies in the capital Malé after underground cables connecting the switch room and generator caught fire.

Local media reported MWSC – the sole provider of clean desalinated water in the capital – as saying that the water services had to be cut off in order to control the damage and that the service was employing all available means to restart the service within the next few hours.

The company has announced that water will be made available temporarily between 8pm – 9pm this evening, and again between 8am and 9pm tomorrow.

Minister of Defence Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim has declared the situation a disaster, setting up a task force and distributing free water via local shops. Local media has begun to report long queues forming outside shops to buy water as well as the price being increased in certain stores.

Police have confirmed one shopkeeper has been attacked, with Vaguthu reporting the assault as resulting from a failure to sell customers the desired amount of water.

Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) spokesperson Major Hussain Ali told Minivan News that the fire was reported to the fire and rescue department at around 1.40pm.

“MNDF officers were on the scene shortly and started working on controlling the fire. The fire was completely extinguished at around 3.25pm,” said Major Hussain.

An MNDF press statement detailing the incident read that the firemen on scene removed some of the ducts in order determine the source of the fire and that a separate team were then called to clear the thick smoke observed in the area.

Police confirmed that they are now investigating the cause of the fire.

MWSC does not rely on electricity generated by State Electric Company but instead operates its own generators to provide electricity for the desalination plant.

Most households in the capital rely on MWSC for their daily water needs, with well water – the traditional method of acquiring water – having become unhygienic due to poor drainage and leakage of contaminants into groundwater.

*story updated at 8:15pm