Malé floods made worse due to poor condition of roads, says Malé deputy mayor

Malé City Council Deputy Mayor Shifa Mohamed says that controlling today’s floods (October 30) is made more difficult with the current condition of the capital’s roads.

Shifa told Minivan News that poor planning and a lack of maintenance had exacerbated the floods occurring across Malé City today (October 30) after heavy downpours in the morning and the afternoon.

“The drains on the sides of the roads have not been properly emptied for over 25 years. There are all sorts of junk in the drains which is clogging up the drainage system leading to floods with the slightest bit of rain,” said Shifa.

Many major roads in the the capital are currently flooded disrupting transportation with much of the south-west of the 6km sq island under water – rising a foot high in many places.

Te department of meteorology has explained that 58 millimeters of rain were recorded in the capital during two hours this morning.

The MET office predicts heavy rain in the next two days. However, wind speeds are expected to be moderate.

Local media reported that police vehicles were being used to transport students, left stranded across the city, to and from the schools.

Communications were also affected, with heavy thunder this morning damaging Dhiraagu and Television Maldives equipment, leading  to network problems and delays in the broadcast from of the state television channel.

Shifa said that the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) is assisting the council with draining the water by setting up pumps at locations most severely affected by the floods.

“We have also diverted half of our waste management team to assist the MNDF in controlling the floods and requested assistance from the National Disaster Management Centre,” explained Shifa.

The deputy mayor accused the government of having misplaced priorities, referring to the planned Malé-Hulhulé bridge project. Shifa argued that the residents of Malé do not need a bridge connecting them with the airport while the roads are in such a condition.

She also stressed the importance of reaching a mutual understanding with the government and the city council regarding the roads, urging collective efforts to repair the roads.

Malé City Council – dominated by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – was  formed by the 2010 Decentralisation Act – has experienced fraught relations with the central government since the fall of the MDP government in 2012.

Mayor Mohamed Shihab has complained that the main difficulty facing the council is obtaining the resources required to manage the rapidly expanding city.

Last week the council complained that is had not been informed before the cancellation of an agreement with Indian firm Tatva to to provide waste management services in the capital Malé and nearby areas.


Strong wind and heavy rain forecast over the next 24 hours

Heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected over the central and southern areas from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. today, Maldives Meteorological Service (MMS) has said.

Thunderstorms are expected over the area between Haa Alif and  Gaafu Dhaalu atoll today (May 1), and the MMS have issued a White Alert.

In addition, the Met Office has forecast strong winds and heavy rain in most parts of Maldives within the next 24 hours.

The country is expected to experience winds up to 40 mph hour during storms. Northern atolls can expect heavy gusts at speeds of 15 miles per hour (mph) during showers and southern atolls can expect winds between 10 mph and 20 mph during showers, according to local media Sun Online.


MET office issues yellow alert as South-West Monsoon approach

The Maldives Meteorological Service has issued a yellow alert and warned of bad weather in the coming days.

According to office, heavy rain will be experienced through out the country in the next 24 hours. While the seas are expected to remain relatively calm for most areas, winds may reach up to 30 miles per hour during showers.

Isolated heavy thunderstorms are to be expected in central and northern atolls.

The office advised safe travel and being on alert when travelling in this weather. According to the office the weather in south is good compared to the northern areas.

According to the office the weather change is due to the changing of the monsoon winds. The South-West Monsoon, locally known as Hulhan’gu Moosun begins on 8 April according to traditional weather calendars, and will continue until 9 December.

Heavy winds are usually experienced during this period.


Carnival atmosphere in Male’ as capital prepares for polls

Votes on Male are divided for Saturday’s presidential election, however ‘Nasheed’ and ‘Yameen’ are the two names on people’s minds as they look forward to a resolution of the 18-month campaign season.

Forty-eight year-old shop owner Ahmed asserts that former president and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Mohamed Nasheed, and Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen, are the two most likely winners of Saturday’s election, but believes that the final decision will be made in a second round.

“The candidates are equal right now,” he said, suggesting that Yameen and Jumhoree Party candidate Gasim Ibrahim had conducted the most effective campaigns “because they have the money… to spend on traveling to the islands.”

To the Maldives’ 350,000 citizens, the four presidential candidates’ personal and political histories are familiar tales. For one middle-aged man surveyed on Majeedhee Magu, the present campaign cannot undo past experiences.

“Anni’s [Nasheed] campaign is most effective, he is good for campaigning but not for the presidency,” he said. He firmly believes that the MDP executed the most effective campaign, but feels that Nasheed’s actions during his presidency have lost him the vote to PPM’s Yameen.

“We have seen 30 years [under PPM president and former president Maumoon Gayoom, Yameen’s half brother]. And then we saw Nasheed’s three years. In these last three years we didn’t see development,” he said. “Giving my mom MVR 2,000 (US$130) is not development. Giving insurance to buy Panadol pills for my mom is not development either. I do believe Nasheed is the one who can bring the development we desire, but the way his Aasandha [health insurance] program and other policies are organised is not helping the most needy.”

The man explained that his request for then-president Nasheed’s help for his dying 18-year-old son elicited only a letter from the party stating that “the Attorney General has instructed them not to spend on anything beside state expenses.”

Across town, 49-year-old Asfari anticipates a 70 percent win for Nasheed in the first round, but allows that Yameen was the likely runner up. “He is the second-best man to be president,” she said.

For some, familiarity generates confidence; for others, apathy.

“Politics gives me a headache,” declared a middle-aged female shop owner.

Some youth surveyed were similarly apathetic.

“In my thinking there is no candidate that is suitable for the election,” said Naushad, age 22, adding that alienation of the young generation was a key factor. “Politics will destroy the country, 100 percent.”

Twenty-three year-old voter Ahamed said the campaigns “were really good, but some of them have been using money and buying people’s vote.”

Although he intends to vote, he expressed frustration with the way that voters we reacting towards free handouts.

“Most of the people just take it. If they’re given money, they don’t see the disadvantages of it… but the campaign will affect the votes, obviously. Some will even feel guilty when they vote.”

Ahamed pointed out that party manifestos have become another means of buying votes.

“One of my friends is voting just because one candidate promised to give a salary to all the national chess players,” he explained.

Of surveyed youth who said they will vote, most self-identified as MDP supporters who anticipated a sweeping win on Saturday.

Rhombus employee Ibrahim, age 23, expects MDP “will win 100 percent”. In a nearby shop Ahmed Ibrahim, age 19, declared “this is the young generation voting for Anni [Nasheed].”

Ahmed works on a safari boat that was recently chartered for President Waheed’s campaign tour in Gaaf Dhaal Atoll. He said he is tired of “chaos and fighting” and that if Nasheed is elected “everything will go back to normal and the Maldives will [progress].”

While many youth surveyed cited general hopes for calm and progress, a few highlighted the importance of a manifesto.

“I wouldn’t vote if there wasn’t a manifesto,” said Ahamed, noting that MDP’s manifesto was a “very different, good and cost-effective manifesto.”

Shauna Rashid, age 18, said that as a student she sides with MDP for its position on education.

Peaceful polls, but “we had a coup”

Security preparations for the election have been a concern since the February 2012, when forces clashed with protesting citizens over the change in government.

With the security forces on red alert all week, Male residents surveyed expect a peaceful election but were hesitant offer predictions beyond close of polls.

Several people, ages 20-50, said they expect the roads to be crowded with excited voters and are wary of possible trouble.

Naushad and Ahmed Ibrahim expect Male’ to be calm on Saturday. “But after the election something will happen,” Naushad surmised.

“There are a lot of concerns because we had a coup, so there is a possibility that there will be a fight,” Shafa said.

Others dismissed concerns of violence. “It will be normal,” said shop-owner Ahmed.

A Commonwealth-appointed security expert will oversee security activities this weekend.

Some observed that rainy forecasts may temper election enthusiasm- forecasts show a 40-60 percent chance of rain through Sunday.

Race to the finish line

Candidates are squeezing Male’ for votes prior to Friday’s 6:00pm campaigning deadline. Party camps were partially closed on Thursday while candidates and volunteers conducted door-to-door campaigns, representatives said. All parties will be holding rallies between Thursday evening and Friday afternoon; MDP, JP and GIP will hold marches on Friday afternoon.

MDP and GIP alleged that they are targeting all demographics, although JP hopes for a strong turnout from the elderly in response to the party’s welfare proposal. PPM and JP representatives were unavailable for comment.

Party representatives interviewed all said they are hoping to reach the winning minimum 51 percent vote on Saturday; one ambitious MDP activist said they anticipated more than 80 percent.


Strong storms and rough seas cause nationwide damage

Stormy weather conditions – heavy rain, harsh winds, and rough seas – over the past week have caused damage to islands throughout the Maldives.

In the south the island of Fuvahmulah has suffered the most damage, said Minister of State for Defence and National Security and head of the National Disaster Management Center (NDMC), Ahmed Mohamed.

“The harsh winds that hit Fuvahmulah yesterday afternoon blew off roofs. A large coconut tree had fallen on top of house and a large tree had fallen on top of the council office. There is additional damages as well. An estimate of damages is now being assessed,” Mohamed said.

He also noted that heavy rains have led to a food shortage, flooding and property damage on Thinadhoo Island in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.

“In Thinadhoo, some of the roofs of houses were blown off due to strong winds. Heavy rain had caused flooding throughout the island. The flood water had seeped into the houses damaging people’s property. We are also receiving reports that they are short of food,” said Mohamed.

Meanwhile, in the north of the country, Rashgetheemu Island in Raa Atoll suffered damage from a lightning storm on April 27 which left all electronic systems within the Island Office “useless”, equipment inside the island’s health centre and power house damaged. Additionally, some electronic devices in private homes were harmed, as well as the island’s banana plantations, Island Council Vice President Ali Hameed told local media today (May 9).

The Maldives Meteorological Service has forecasted thunderstorms throughout the country, concentrated in the central and south, over the next 24 hours, with rough seas, and strong winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour. They have also issued warnings about flooding due to storm surge and tidal waves, particularly during high tide.


Rubbish fire smoke engulfs school, 50 students forced to seek medical attention

Children from Imaduddin School in Male’ were given emergency treatment today after they reported dizziness and nausea caused by smoke rising from a nearby rubbish dump.

Local media reported that smoke began to rise around 10:30am today (March 6), causing 50 students to seek medical care. A teacher was also taken to hospital after her health suddenly deteriorated.

Imaduddin School Principal Ibrahim Asif Rasheed told local media that the school has to cancel certain lessons when the wind is strong and facing in a certain direction.

According to the principal, the school was engulfed by smoke in the morning and that parents had been requested to collect their children who were suffering from the smoke.

After contacting the meteorological centre to clarify weather conditions for the next few days, Rasheed told local media that lessons will commence tomorrow.


MNDF assists in clearing Male’ flood waters

Fire crews from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) have today been working to clear flood water from roads across Male’ following heavy showers.

The MNDF has said that several complaints were received by the department from citizens who had difficulties in walking and driving because of the flood water on some of the capital’s roads.

Fire crews placed had opted to use water pumps near Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital [IGMH], Ghiyasudeen School and the local garbage area, the MNDF said in a statement.

Local media reported that the flood waters had been caused by two hours of non-stop heavy rain this morning.

Flood waters were reported today to have affected Ameenee Magu, parts of Boduthakurufaanu Magu and some several other roads in Male’ City.

Meanwhile, the National Meteorological Department has said that the wet weather is expected to continue for the next two days.


Cyclone in Bay of Bengal causing adverse conditions in the Maldives

Heavy rains and strong winds experienced in the Maldives over the past few days have been linked to low pressure left by the cyclone currently active in the Bay of Bengal.

“Bad weather will be experienced from Huvadhu Atoll to Raa Atoll today. We have received information that Laamu Atoll has faced damage due to heavy rain. We also expect rough seas, heavy rain and strong winds for the next two days,” said Deputy Director General of Department of Meteorology Ali Shareef.

After heavy rains over the Eid holiday, weather conditions have deteriorated further in recent days reportedly causing damage to some property in the country’s southern atolls as well as flooding in Male’ in recent days.

The Meteorology Department has forecast heavy rains for at least another 24 hours with winds of between 25-35 miles per hour predicted as well as gusts between 50 and 60 miles per hour.

The department has advised against any maritime activities owing to the harsh conditions – which are said to include waves of between 4 and 6 feet on the open sea.

Sun Online has today reported the roofs of three houses were blown off by strong winds in Addu atoll. The MNDF are said to be lending assistance and no injuries have been reported.

The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) has requested atoll and island councils to inform it of any damage caused by the weather as well urging people to take precautions against the strong winds and anticipated floods, reported Haveeru.

“We advise you to maintain cleanliness at waste areas to avoid diseases that can arise from flooding, and also to remove overhanging branches,” said the statement.

The Sri Lankan meteorological department today called off an evacuation order along its periphery as the cyclone, situated in the south-east of the Bay of Bengal, changed course 100km from the coast and headed towards India.

India’s meteorology department is predicting winds of up to 90 miles per hour to hit the country’s south east, with local authorities in Tamil Nadu urging fisherman to stay on land and shutting down hundreds of schools.

“We have declared a holiday in all the schools, colleges, government offices in five districts of Tamil Nadu. Fishermen have been warned not to go out into the sea,” a government administrator told AFP.

Poor weather conditions in the Maldives last month resulted in over a dozen incidents of people stranded or capsized in the ocean, reported the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).


Schwack targets Maldives ad shakeup with screen service launch

Schwack Maldives plans to roll out promotional television screens detailing ferry times, current doctor duties at local hospitals, dollar exchange rates and news across the Maldives after launching the technology exclusively in Male’ this week.

According to the company, the Schwack Connections initiative was launched with 13 screens at seven restaurants and cafes around Male’, with further launches planned both within the capital and at a number of destinations like Addu Atoll.

Schwack Maldives’ Director Althaf Mohamed claimed that amidst present financial uncertainty in the Maldives,  the service was an entirely new way for business to advertise services and products in the country.

The screened information is designed to combine advertising and news with health information, trivia and even celebrity tweets and other social network updates, according to the company.