No fall back for disaster of this magnitude: President Yameen

President Abdulla Yameen has spoken to the public for the first time regarding the Malé water crisis, saying that there could have been no fall back plan for such a crisis.

“We did not have any fall back plan for any disaster of this magnitude. However, we have done extremely hard work to try and bring the situation back to normal,” said the president.

Remarking that the extremely low odds of such an incident occurring had prevented the state-owned Malé Water and Sewerage Company from making plans to deal with the current situation.

Yameen said that five of the nine panel boards at the MWSC had now been fully repaired, estimating that the relief effort would cost US$20m million.

The Maldives’ capital was plunged into crisis on Thursday (December 4) as a fire at MWSC gutted the desalination plant, leaving 130,000 people without running water, leading to the dwindling of bottled drinking water supplies .

“I am not trying to make any excuses for the disaster at MWSC but the company was formed in the early 1980s. The design of the company and the water demand has changed with the population increase in Male.”

“There should be no difficulties with obtaining drinking water. However, there are problems with getting water for washing up and cleaning for people in high rise buildings,” said Yameen.

Large amounts of fresh water have been supplied via a number of international donors, who were thanked by the president.

“I would like to point out that even after some very difficult times for the foreign relations of the country, many nations are aiding the country in this heart wrenching time.”

The government will look into various ways to prevent such an occurrence maybe by dividing up the water grid by wards.”

Meanwhile, members of the president’s task force have told local media that the problem could not be fixed within a “politically desirable” timeframe.

In an interview with Haveeru, Minister of Defence Mohamed Nazim said that it would take two weeks to completely recover from the crisis, saying that 50 percent of this would be achieved by the end of the week.

Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Dr Mohamed Shainee said that, while MWSC has utilised a backup plan after the fire, a completely foolproof system was financially prohibitive.

“If we were to look for a 100 percent foolproof system, it would need to be built far from MWSC – in another area.  This occurred within one year this government came into power. We had been preparing for water security,” Shainee told Haveeru.

Minister at the President’s Office Mohamed Hussain Shareef told Minivan News earlier that the residents of Malé consumed around 14,000 metric tonnes of water a day, with the fully functioning plant able to produce around 20,000 tonnes.

The Maldives National Defence Force, working alongside volunteers from the public and civil society, continues to distribute water brought from abroad and from desalination plants on nearby islands.

Bangladesh became the latest country to announce it would send naval vessels with fresh water and desalination capacity, following the arrival of two Indian ships as well as the expected arrival of the Chinese navy.

The INS Deepak was the latest Indian ship to arrive, with 800 tonnes of water and the capacity to desalinate 200 tonnes per day. Deepak’s arrival follows ten Indian aircraft which have brought regular supplies of fresh water since Friday.

The Maldivian Red Crescent today received the first shipment of 5 tonnes of fresh water today, while the UN in Maldives has said that 180 tonnes stored under its premises in Malé requires treatment before it can be handed to the public.

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