Piles of garbage left on Malé streets

Piles of garbage have been left to rot on the streets of Malé days after a housing ministry organized waste disposal program ended.

The housing ministry on June 14 announced it will pick up trash from households between 4pm and 10pm on June 15. The program was announced ahead of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

Officials said households must register to get trash cleared out.

Five days later, several houses are continuing to leave trash on Malé’s narrow and congested streets.

Housing minister Dr Mohamed Muizz has accused the opposition of deliberately thrashing the streets of Malé. On June 18, the first day of Ramadan, Muizz said the waste disposal program was over and said that the opposition has been “throwing out garbage in different areas” of the city to hinder government efforts to “keep Malé clean.”

On the same day, the housing ministry released a statement saying it had cleared trash from some 430 registered households on June 15.

“We regret to inform that the ministry will not be throwing out any of the trash being thrown out on the streets from now on.”

However, the ministry on Friday said some 50 staff had helped clear 68 truckloads of “illegal garbage.”

Malé City’s deputy mayor Shifa Mohamed said the housing ministry’s waste disposal program was poorly planned.

“First they say they will throw out the trash a day before they start the program. Two days later, they say not anymore. That is not how people’s behavior works.”

Not everyone is up-to-date on the ministry’s latest announcements, she said. “Some people took out trash they have been keeping inside their homes for more than 8 years.”

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has meanwhile announced that it will fine the households that have left garbage on the streets after June 15.

“Throwing out trash in this manner, is illegal under the waste management regulations enforced by the EPA,” read the statement.

Article 11 of the waste management regulation prohibit waste disposal on streets and parks.


Housing Ministry asks Male City Council to hand over MDP protest site in seven days, despite High Court order

The Housing Ministry has asked the Male’ City Council to evacuate and hand over the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s protest site at Usfasgandu in Male within seven days.

The repeated demand comes a day after the High Court overturned a Civil Court order backing the government’s previous order that the land be handed over.

Speaking at a press conference held today, Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz said the council was not using the Usfasgandu site according to the government’s land use plan.

Muiz said the council has been sent a notice asking them to evacuate the land plot and if not the ministry will, in accordance to the law, evacuate the land plot and will not be responsible for any loss of property in the area.

Muiz also said that the government will not hesitate to take actions against any one in order to protect the interest of the citizens.

‘’Because of the way the Male’ City Council is using the land, it is not benefitting the people,’’ he said. ‘’So a notice have been sent in reference to the High Court order and Attorney General’s advice.’’

Muiz also said the ministry had received reports that Male’ City Council was ordering businessmen running food outlets and other businesses in the ‘Alimas Carnival’ area to vacate the area. He said the businessmen did not have to listen to what the council said because the Alimas Carnival area was no longer under the jurisdiction of the council.

‘’They can run their businesses unless the government ask them to leave the area,’’ he added.

Land dispute

The area was cordoned off by police late last month after the High Court issued a warrant requesting the area be kept under police custody until it reached a verdict on the case.

Male’ City Council leased the Usfasgandu area to the ousted ruling party in March 2012, prompting repeated attempts by the government to reclaim the area on the grounds it was being used for criminal activity, including the practice of black magic.

The MDP had moved to the area after a previous protest camp at the tsunami monument was dismantled and completely repainted by police and military on March 19, 2012.

On May 29, police raided the Usfasgandu site after obtaining a search warrant from the Criminal Court, ordering the MDP to vacate the area. The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) then began dismantling the protest camp.

The Housing Ministry filed a case with the Civil Court after MCC refused to hand the land plot to the ministry.


Housing minister expresses sadness over suspected suicide of Bangladeshi maid

Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz has issued a statement expressing sadness over the death on Saturday (December 22) of a Bangladeshi woman employed as a maid at his Male’ residence.  Police have said they they are presently treating the death as a suspected suicide.

Dr Muiz confirmed that the deceased had been employed at the home he shared with his wife and two children, while also expressing deep sadness over the incident.

Muiz claimed he was first informed of the death while visiting Hulhumale’ with his wife. He added that after hearing of the incident he immediately called Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz.

According to the statement, police officers were already at the scene by the time the housing minister arrived home.

Muiz said that he hoped that further details concerning the case would be released after police had completed their investigation.

The statement also expressed sadness over what some people were allegedly saying about the incident through social media.

Speaking of the deceased, the housing minister stated she had been very good in her duties as well as being very close to his children and a key part of their lives.

“Initial stage”

The Maldives Police Service has said that that investigations were presently at an “initial stage” and it could not therefore disclose any more details on the case, which was presently being treated as a suicide for undisclosed reasons.

Speaking to Minivan News yesterday (December 24), Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef confirmed that the body of a 24 year-old female had been found in an apartment on the ninth floor of Chandhanee House in Maafannu Ward.

“I cannot reveal any more until we complete our investigations.  We will not come to any conclusions before that,” he said.
Hours after the body was found on Saturday evening, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz left a message on the social media site Twitter stating: “Police is investigating the suicide case.”

Police treating Bangladeshi woman’s death as suicide as investigations continue

The body of a female Bangladeshi national residing and working in a Male’ residence was found Saturday (December 22) in what police have claimed is a suspected suicide.

Local media reported that the Bangladeshi maid was living in the apartment of Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef confirmed that the body of a 24 year-old female had been found in an apartment on the ninth floor of Chandhanee House in Maafannu Ward. However, at time of press Haneef was unable to clarify any details of the accommodation where the body had been discovered.

He added that the deceased had been employed as a maid by the landlords of the property, but could not confirm if Housing Minister Muiz resided in or owned accommodation within the building where the body was discovered.

The housing minister was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Haneef claimed that investigations were presently at an “initial stage” and police could not therefore disclose any more details on the case, which he said was presently being treated as a suicide for undisclosed reasons.

“I cannot reveal any more until we complete our investigations.  We will not come to any conclusions before that,” he said.

Local media reported that the dead body was discovered at about 5:30pm on Saturday (December 22).

Hours after the body was found Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz left a message on the social media site Twitter stating: “Police is investigating the suicide case.”

According to media reports, the deceased was discovered in an apartment in Chandhanee House in Maafannu Ward where the current housing minister is said to reside.


Inhabited islands need to be halved: Housing Minister

Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr Mohamed Muizzu has told local media that the number of populated islands in the Maldives needs to be reduced by half as part of a national resettlement policy.

“The inhabited islands in the Maldives need to be reduced. This cannot be attained within one or two days. It can take up to 10 years,” Muizzu was quoted as saying.

The minister reportedly revealed details to carry out this strategy with a combination of subsidies and housing for those willing to move from smaller to larger islands.

Dr Muizzu was not responding to calls at time of press. However he was reported as saying that relocation would only occur if the majority of an island’s population consented to being transferred, requiring cooperation with local councils.

Haveeru today reported that Haa Alif Molhadhoo Island Council had accused the government of informing the council that its population of 400 would be relocated to nearby Dhihdhoo island without prior consultation.

Muizzu has denied this, reiterating the intention to seek consensus on any consolidation projects whilst highlighting the efforts made to facilitate the potential move.

“We are hoping to start a new housing project in Dhihdhoo in the next two months. Those units will be set aside specially for those moving into Dhihdhoo and would be completely free. There’s no need to even pay rent,” he told Haveeru.

There were also protests against the potential transfer of the population of Rinbudhoo in Dhaalu Atoll earlier this month.

With a total population of nearly 350,000, dispersed over 196 inhabited islands spread over a distance of more than 600 miles, the Maldives is one of one of the world’s most dispersed countries.

Dispersed populations and small island communities have been long recognised as key challenges to the sustainable social and economic development of Maldives.

Both the former Minister for the (now defunct) Atolls Development Ministry and current Vice President, Mohamed Waheed Deen, and Special Advisor to the President, Dr Hassan Saeed, have spoken publicly about the economic importance of population consolidation since the new government came to power.

“Without population consolidation we cannot achieve sustainable economic development,” Deen contended, speaking to the media in April just after taking office.

“Population consolidation needs to start so we can deliver public services fairly to all people as well realising economies of scale in delivery. This cannot be just an aspiration; action has to start now,” Hassan explained in a comment piece for local newspaper Haveeru in June.

The Vice President also expressed his long term vision for economically viable population distribution in the country – going far beyond Muizzu’s aim of bringing the country’s inhabited islands to just under one hundred.

“I envision that people of Maldives will live in 25 to 30 islands. Each island will be of twice that of Hulhumale’. Around 60,000 to 70,000 will live on each island. This is a dream I see. I will try to make this dream come true.”

Muizzu yesterday stated his belief that repopulation will enable the government to better provide for people’s basic constitutional rights with regards to medical care, education, housing and travel.

Studies by the Ministry of Planning and National Development for the most recent National Development Plan (NDP) found strong links between social vulnerability and population size.

With higher rates indicating greater vulnerability based on a composite of twelve living standard dimensions, populations of less than 200 had an average of 5.3 on the Human Vulnerability Index (HVI), islands with more than 2000 inhabitants had an average of 2.4, whilst those with over 4000 had an average of 2.1.

The seventh NDP also found that the average income of islands hosting those displaced by the 2004 tsunami rose by 30 percent within 6 months.

Currently, around 130 islands have populations less than a 1000, and others between 1000-6000, while Male’ accounts for one third of the total population, where the density of the population is over 40,000 per square kilometres.

The government’s repopulation policy signifies a renewed ambition to follow through on the much awaited population strategy that has been discussed for a quarter-century, but has fallen short of making any significant outcomes.

Resettlement of nearly 17 islands were reportedly under review during former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s last term in office, but confronted by the 2004 Tsunami and the pre-2008 democratic reforms, population consolidation plans lost emphasis.

The talks ultimately disappeared from the table under the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed, which lobbied for a national transportation network between the islands to boost connectivity and economic progress.


Over 400 forms issued for Rf500 million loan scheme for stalled construction

The Ministry of Housing issued over 400 forms yesterday for applicants to the Rf500 million (US$32 million) loan scheme for houses in Male’ with stalled construction, reports Haveeru.

State Minister Akram Kamaaludeen said that the deadline for applications has been extended from November 5 to 15 and the ministry has decided not to require applicants to submit engineering reports after considering the cost of preparing the report.

The applicant will have to submit the engineering report once they’ve been qualified for the loan. The loan will be issued once the report is submitted,” he explained.

The loans will target owners who are unable to continue construction due to financial constraints or ineligibility for loan schemes offered either by the Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) or domestic banks.

The maximum amount given to each individual will be Rf3 million, which should be paid within 15 years after a grace period of one year with an interest rate of 11.75 percent per year.


MDP VP candidate Alhan Fahmy pulls out of tonight’s debate

Tonight’s debate between candidates for the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) vice-presidency has been cancelled after MP Alhan Fahmy decided to boycott the event alleging undue influence.

According to the MDP website, the debate was canceled after Alhan sent a letter to Chairwoman Mariya Didi raising “issues” with the advertised debate.

MDP Secretary General Ahmed Shah said that although there were three candidates including Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam and Hussein Adam [Adambe], the latter has “showed no interest” in either the debate or campaigning for the post.

However the debate between contenders for the party’s top post – Special Envoy Ibrahim Hussein Zaki and former Fisheries Minister Dr Ibrahim Didi – is set to go ahead as planned.

Meanwhile in his letter of protest, Alhan wrote that he did not wish to publicly reveal his objections to the debate as disunity or discord within the party was not his intention, adding that he did not want members to lose confidence in a cabinet minister.

Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam did not respond to Minivan News at time of press while Alhan was in a meeting and unavailable for a comment.