President mocked over Malé congestion remarks

President Abdulla Yameen is being ridiculed for saying the capital is not congested or overcrowded, despite the tiny city being home to almost 40 percent of the country’s population.

He made the remarks at the launch of an information handbook about the government’s development work.

“We used to believe that Malé is overcrowded, that a good life cannot be lived in Malé. The changes being brought to Malé were forced on us when it came with a vision. Where is the garbage in Malé now? Are we talking about the lack of land in Malé anymore?” he asked on Wednesday.

He also suggested that the government’s decision to allow high-rise buildings in the capital had resolved a land shortage problem.

Malé, a 2.2 square mile island that has already been reclaimed to the edge of its house reef, has a population of 133,000 people. It is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with more than 59,000 people per square mile.

“Isn’t it congestion when you can’t walk because of overcrowding?” asked one person. “Isn’t it congestion when people live and sleep in overcrowded rooms?”

“Isn’t it congestion that led to the ban of cargo transport during the day?” asked another. “Isn’t overcrowding the reason we need flats?”

Several construction projects have been proposed now that approval is available for 25-storey buildings.

The Nasandhuraa Palace, a 25-storey luxury residence and hotel, is being built on the north-eastern end of Malé.

A second high-end residential and retail complex is being undertaken by Chang Hua Construction of Singapore in the western end of the city.

Chang Hua is also building a 25-storey hospital tower for the government. The project has been mired in controversy because of its exorbitant price tag, triggering corruption probes. It is to be completed this year for MVR2.1 billion (US$140 million).

Several residential towers have also been proposed on the suburb island of Hulhumalé.

“So, today, no one will believe that Malé is congested or overcrowded. While Malé sees these new developments, the same is happening in other cities,” Yameen said.

His comments were ridiculed on social media. Several people mentioned recent changes to traffic regulations banning the transport of goods during the day, which was hailed as a move to deal with congested roads by the transport authority.

Photo: PSM

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Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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