The development of housing, industry, and transportation infrastructure is expected to greatly improve the “extreme” situation on Male’, said Infrastructure Development Ambassador Sarangu Adam Manik.
“There are more people in Male who do not have housing than people who do,” he said.
The capital Male’ has a land area of less than two square kilometers but is home to one-third of the country’s population or approximately 125,000 people residing in an estimated 16,000 households; the total number of households in the Maldives is estimated to be 46,000.
With 50,000 people per square kilometer Male’ is the most densely populated city in the world, outdoing Mumbai’s 33,000 people per square kilometre.
President Mohamed Nasheed previously said the “household is the main engine of development.” Making good on this claim, he yesterday conferred land tenure agreements to 20 parties who had applied for housing and housing grants to 27 applicants, saying the government intends to provide housing for all 21,000 applicants to the Veshi Fahi Male’ housing program.
Earlier this year, ten flats were awarded under the same program.
The government originally pledged 10,000 flats.
A statement on the President’s Office website said the program aims “to satisfy the lives of all Maldivian citizens, and augmenting the nation’s economically active population by economically mobilizing nearly 150,000 people.”
Under phase one of the project launched in January, a total of 1,000 parties were invited to apply for the housing scheme. Over 8,000 application forms were submitted on the first day.
The Cabinet also approved related projects including the development of a container park in Thilafushi to incentivise relocating warehouses in Male’ and construction of a multi-purpose local market with modern facilities for residents of Male’.
The programme was launched on November 10, 2010 with the aim of combining the development of Malé, Vilingili, Guli Falhu, Thilafushi, Hulhumalé and Malé International Airport.
Manik said the network of projects will jointly reduce the stress on Male’.
“Gulhifalhu will help tremendously the housing and economic situation. Thilafushi will centralise the industrial sector, and the bridge will improve mobility–all components will help the situation on Male’,” he surmised.
The Cabinet yesterday decided to proceed with the plan to construct a bridge between Male and Hulhule, a reclaimed island attached to Hulhumale.
Since Hulhumale’s population is expected to double in the next year as people take advantage of new housing opportunities, mobility will become an issue, Manik said.
“Think about it, you will have two to three thousand flats, each with a family of four or more people on average. That’s eight to twelve thousand people,” he pointed out.
He also noted that the current boat-based system is vulnerable to changes in weather.
Manik said building a bridge was not a new idea. “The previous government proposed it but didn’t find a way to do it. President Nasheed’s ability to think ahead and think strategically means that the new government has found a way to do it. Gayoom’s government talked about it but we never saw a plan.”
Reflecting on public complaints of some infrastructure development programs, Manik surmised that “everybody wants to be the khafir except the khafir.
“Each power is trying to draw new borders, and there are always demarcation problems. People will settle down and things will become more progressive. It takes time to accept a new democracy.”