Malé City Council has expressed concern about the road construction project. The council noted that the government initiative is ill researched and might end up being a waste of state funds.
In an interview with VNews, Councilman Shamau Shareef said that the Malé City Council has been repairing roads in the city since 2014. He however added that budgetary constraints limited them from carrying out repair work in the best possible manner. Shamau said that in hopes of finding a solution to the matter, extensive discussions were held with the Ministry of Finance and Maldives Road Development Corporation, only in vain.
He complained that instead of allocating funds for the city council which had been already working on the project, the Ministry of Finance channeled funds to the Ministry of Housing to take up a massive road construction project. He said that it was noteworthy that the Ministry of Housing had no prior experience in road construction projects. Shamau said that on the other hand, city council had been getting excess rocks from sites and using these rocks for road construction and repair.
“We repeatedly shared our concerns with the Ministry of Housing. We said that the Malé road construction project would be a large-scale project and therefore we suggested we meet stakeholders and formulate a plan. However, things never proceeded in that manner’, he said.
He said that while the Decentralization Act mandates the city council to maintain roads, the government’s actions at the time were hostile.
Shamau said that the ongoing project was ill researched and not properly planned. He expressed uncertainty about the durability of the new roads.
“Malé is a very unique city. There are few cities in the world that are like this. Therefore roads in Malé should be planned wisely, after consulting technical and capable persons. Actually we feel that the reason behind Malé roads being damaged so much was the frequent need for roads to be dug. So, if we redesign the roads with a long term, 15 or 20 years’ duration in mind, the digging might stop. However, the work is not being carried out in that manner”, Shamau said.
He said, both MRDC and the Ministry of Housing lack technical experts in the field of road construction. He said that therefore seeking advice from experts were mandatory. He said that carrying out the projects area by area without seeking advice from experts, would generate bitter results.
Shamau said that even during the Gayyoom administration, road construction was hasty and was carried out without levelling the ground. He said that as a result, floods still affect many roads in Malé. He said that although the City Council has urged the government to learn lessons from past mistakes, the government remains obstinate.
“Being such a congested city, Malé has social problems. There are a lot of things that citizens need as well. There are various problems that need solutions as well. As such, the issue of the roads in Malé is a major concern. Citizens have to bear the burden of damaged roads. This increases when sudden major changes are brought”, Shamau explained.
He said that the issues that citizens of Malé face can be best addressed if the decentralized system of governance is allowed to govern in the manner described in the Decentralization Act.
The government has inaugurated a special project to upgrade the 13 main roads in Malé. The project which was launched on October 1, 2016 is expected to be completed in September 2018.