A group of local surfers dumped a pile of garbage outside the entrance to Male’ City Hall today in a second protest aimed at preventing the waste generated by a night market held this month from polluting the Maldives’ capital city.
The rubbish pile was dumped at the MCC today (June 19) in an effort to pressure city councilors to organise a formal meeting with the group, so they can collaboratively prevent refuse from the ongoing night market event from polluting the area, the group claimed.
The rubbish was collected from roads around the market, known as the ‘Ungulhey Bazaar’, as well as the small park area local surfers refer to as ‘the garden’ located next to the capital’s ‘raalhugandu’ surf point in Henveiru ward.
Appalled by the excessive amounts of garbage littering the nearby streets, parks and sea due to the Male’ night market, last week the group of surfers staged a creative protest using the rubbish to try and pressure the city council into action.
Although the first protest did prompt responses from the Male’ City Council (MCC) and Go Media – the private company commissioned to organise the market – no formal meetings have yet been conducted to resolve the issue, Maldives Surfing Association (MSA) President Ahmed Fauzan ‘Karo’ Abbas told Minivan News today.
“We have tried to meet someone [from MCC and Go Media] and they have sent different representatives [to raalhugandu] to discuss the night market litter problem, but no one with decision making authority,” said Abbas. “Random people come but we don’t know who they are.”
“We have also previously sent complaint letters but no one has responded,” he added.
“I was [previously] told things would get better, but it’s getting worse,” he said.
The surfers today claimed that their second protest appeared to have been more successful.
“MCC has arranged an official meeting for Sunday (June 23), which will be attended by MSA as well as the Maldives Bodyboarding Association (MBBA),” said Abbas.
He added that although tonight marked the last night of the market, another event had been scheduled for October this year.
“We have told the city council we do not want the bazaar to be held here again. What the public is doing [throwing waste all over the area] is affecting our sport,” said Abbas.
Abbas explained that the raalhugandu area had a long association with surfing, adding that the excessive garbage – as well as advertising billboards erected in the area without consulting the community – all negatively impacted surf competitions held in the area.
“This is a public space and the public should be consulted before holding a big event [like the night market],” he said.
The MCC confirmed today that a first formal meeting with the MSA and MBBA is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
“We scheduled the formal meeting to solve all the [garbage] problems and to discuss what difficulties they are facing due to the night market,” MCC Councillor Mohamed Falah told Minivan News today.
“I know that we have to solve the garbage problems very carefully,” said Falah. “I agree with their demands and that environmental problems are very important.”
“We will solve these waste issues at any cost,” he declared.
Raising awareness about the link between human and environmental health is necessary to stop people from haphazardly throwing their garbage everywhere, which is why the surfers are leading by example, local surfer Hamid Abdul Hadhi previously told Minivan News.
“Most of the pollution from the market ends up in the sea,” Hadhi explained. “The trash hurts the fishes and corals, plus when we’re surfing and get a plastic bag stuck to our faces then we’re in trouble.”