Following a massive fire in the MWSC, water supply in Male has been cut off. According to sources in Male’, the control panel boards of the water production facility caught fire and serious damages was caused which resulted in the water outage. The facility produces 17000 cubic meters of water per day and serves a population of 150000. In comparison a typical resort of 200 rooms will have ro plants capable of producing 500 cubic meters of water per day. A typical swimming pool might have anything from 20 cubic meters to 60 cubic meters of water. As the water situation in Male’ is being worked on it reminds us all of the preciousness of water, something we all take for granted. There are tremendous scope for growth and improvement in the area of water production both in resorts and in islands such as newer and better pump designs, pressure exchangers, membranes and controls to manage flow etc. In the case of congested cities such as Male’ there is the additional need to have redundancies in the system as well decentralize production to minimize risk of total outage.
Beats us all, doesn’t it? This is 2014 and this is about using technology of the era of pyramid’s in most expensive resorts in Maldives. Even locals have started using electronic locks in homes especially in Male’ and yet most resorts are still using these heavy brass monstrosities (keys) maybe with the thinking that guests are stupid and can’t handle something as advanced as an RFID embedded plastic card. Apart from the clumsiness of having to carry them around often with heavy wooden tags there is the little worry of cutting lost keys, keeping of records, originals of all keys and occasional changing of key barrels and so much more that goes with it. In comparison the electronic locks are simple, easy to replace, light weight, much more secure and cheaper and environmentally friendly. So basically there shall be no excuse to use brass locks and keys in resorts at this age and time other than callousness which by the way is all too common.
In a heartwarming announcement, the gender ministry is at last trying to do a long overdue good thing for the country. This is about providing employment for the disabled. The stated goal is to provide 30 jobs for thirty individuals by this year from participating public companies and government affiliated institutions.
Providing jobs to people able or disabled has never been a priority of any government past or present although politicians will vehemently disagree. Although much noise was made about just doing that, actions spoke louder and the results are there to show. We have a huge unemployment problem the size of which will be known once the census data comes out by then end of this month. In developed countries like USA they do actually estimate how much jobs was shed or created during a particular month. We are far from that level and the ‘authorities’ are really trying to grapple the unemployment monster by doing their typical baby steps. But estimation of our unemployment problem shall not be a very big problem at all. This is a tiny country where we don’t have lots of legacy systems and compatibility of datasets and lots of red tape to hinder such work. All we have is lots of inefficiency and unproductively, lack of imagination to solve problems and passionate political thinking everywhere.
All hope is not lost yet, good things are happening albeit slowly and with every improvement there is reason for optimism.
This is probably the hottest question in Maldives right now. This is about a prolific blogger who used the alias “moyameeha” meaning mad person who mysteriously went missing one evening 46 days ago. Since then many things happened and this case has been on everyone’s conscience and yet after a lot of work trying to find him, his whereabouts is unknown. From what is already known, he lives alone in Hulhumale and has received online threats for his controversial views like politicians prior to the disappearance. Police have launched a massive campaign to find him and yet they don’t seem to have come up with much. Maybe they have but they aren’t revealing much of what they have found. Notable news stories that has since come up with which may or may not be connected with this story include a report of a forcible abduction of a person in Hulhumale and a storage facility that was destroyed by fire. The abduction according to police was a woman who was drunk and they refused to divulge any other information about this case as they believe the two cases are not related. The storage facility that was destroyed by a huge fire some allege might have something to do with disposing of evidence to something more sinister. However nobody is sure of anything as of yet, and the authorities are not yet in singing mood.
And then there is the politics.
MDP the opposition party is trying to get as much currency out of this issue since their electoral defeat, in both presidential and parliamentary elections and accusations are flying energetically everywhere. Proxy NGO’s run by MDP members are making reports accusing everybody from the president to the scholar to the laymen and everyone in between. Astounding as it may seen, they are even energetically promoting the theory that this is about a forced disappearance orchestrated by religious scholars and irreligious street thugs however difficult maybe to promote the theory. One peculiar thing that is unique to MDP is always to appealing to their international partners rather than trying to convince the electorate that their position is better than their enemies. In this regard they have made quite damaging allegations against the country such that investors and tourists arrivals will be affected by alleging the country is gripped by extremism etc. This is not a new thing to MDP and this maybe the reason why they lost lot of support from patriotic mainstream when they are seen to be too out of touch with the common people and too eager to impress their international partners elsewhere.
Whatever the political leanings maybe, this is a worrying case and there appears to be an honest desire to arrive at the truth with the resources we have. Even if a crime is established and a culprit brought before the law, it’s highly improbable that justice will be served because of the giant sized holes in our constitution.
Why this is important
Haa Dhaal Atoll has the highest population compared with the other individual atolls, yet the needs of the people from this atoll have gone unnoticed or perhaps unheard for years by consecutive governments. It is worrying to highlight that residents of Haa Dhaal Atoll earn the lowest income in this country. Similarly, but not surprisingly, people of Haa Dhaal Atoll have the lowest standard of living compared with other regions of Maldives. These factors, combined with lack of employment opportunitiesavailable within the atoll have caused mass migration of people to Male’ in search of jobs, better education and better healthcare. As a result, the resident population of Haa Dhaal Atoll is decreasing every year causing it harder to compete with other atolls on bringing development projects to many Islands that are in desperate need.
Higher standard of living and earning a decent income while working within the atoll is something we all dream of. The main sector that offer a decent and reliable income for people is Civil Service but this represents a small proportion of our population. At present, we have determined working people in fisheries and agricultural sector. However, their work is generally confined within the atoll as they do not have the necessary mechanism or the incentives to expand their work. In addition to this, inability to move their products between islands and low demand due to low resident population have caused them to settle for an income that barely meets their financial needs. The stagnated state of these activities have led to low income from fisheries and agricultural sector.
The state of our local economy is a great concern for the people of Haa Dhaal Atoll. More importantly, the absence of tourism industry within this atoll has become a major barrier for economic and social development. For instance, in many cases, men are having to work away from home for most of the time, leaving their responsibilities as the head of the family towomen who are increasingly being burdened with double responsibilities. This puts a lot of stress on both partners which leads to undesirable family issues. Similarly, young people are another particularly disadvantaged group within our atoll as a result of lack of employment opportunities. Unemployment is one of the main reasons behind the increasing rates of crime among the youth. This dire situation in our atoll is tearing up the social fabric of our society.
It has been over 40 years since the tourism industry flourished in Maldives. However, the atoll with approximately 20,000 people has not yet got the opportunity to enjoy the economic benefits of this sector. In fact, Haa Dhaal Atoll is the only atoll in Maldives that does not have an operational resort. We do understand that three of our islands have been given for resort development but it has been over 12 years without any of them being opened for tourists. This has cost 2,000 jobs that was promised for us with these resorts. Furthermore, some of our uninhabited islands have been leased for agricultural purposes.Sadly, even these agricultural projects have failed in creating enough employment opportunities for residents of this atoll.
We have waited long enough to enjoy the success and development that tourism industry has brought to other regions of the Maldives. We want the people of Haa Dhaal Atoll to have the convenience of working in resorts within this atoll without having to move to other regions.
We believe that development of resorts in our pristine uninhabited islands is the key to improve our income, hence improve our standard of living and to bring the mass migration to halt. This will not only allow us to have an equal participation in tourism industry but also pave the way for further development of this industry. Furthermore, creation of a more vibrant local economy will allow our fishermen and farmers to thrive and expand their work.
Hence, on behalf of all the people from Haa Dhaal Atoll, we humbly ask the government not to exclude us from this prosperous and growing industry. We urge the government to give the utmost importance to solve the issue of income disparity caused by uneven development of tourism industry in Maldivian atolls. Further, we urge the government to open up more islands for resort development in Haa Dhaal Atoll.
History will vouch for the courage of people from “Bodu Thiladhunmathi”. We are proud of our ancestors and we learn from their lessons. We seek courage from their strength and in honor of them, we will stand up in unity to bring the benefits of tourism industry within our reach.
So dear people of Haa Dhaal Atoll,
We ask on behalf of everyone of this atoll to sign this petition. The purpose of this petition is to deliver our concerns, hopes and wishes to the government. We hope the petition will make the government aware of the current economic and social situation in Haa Dhaal Atoll. We want to express our interest in being a part of the industry that generate the highest income for this country. We are here to fight for the development of our atoll and In Sha Allah this will become true in the near future!
How does an abandoned island look after 22 years? Here are some pics of Tholhendhoo which was abandoned in 1992 and the people of the island moved to nearby Kendhidulhudhoo. The island itself was a small beautiful island which didn’t have a calm safe lagoon which made it very difficult for the islanders to engage in fishing or sea transport.
Its autumn in Tholhendhoo. The haunting image of the main road of the island after 22 years of quietness.
Here is the island now; trees have grown up and erased all signs of past human habitation. Only a small area with a few roofs remains to show the history of the island.
Tholhendhoo (right) people migrated to their much big brother island nearby which is kendhikulhudhoo
The biggest tree in the island.
The ruins of the island pre-school.
The island office, once symbol of authority,
One last pic a villager took of his home before emigrating to new life in Kendhikulhudhoo
The farewell ceremony of the island was attended by by the then president Maumoon.
From a distance the beaches of the island are the same as any other island, but Tholhendhoo has a history.
Local workers of Sheraton have stopped work and are on strike citing service unbelievably low charge, discrimination against workers and nepotism. According to one worker in the island, the service charge has been around an unimpressive 600$ for most of the year including in the high season. This is in contrast to $2k and above in Kihaava Villas and other top resorts in the country. It’s strange that big brands like Sheraton could have got things so wrong in the middle of high season when everywhere resort workers are expected to earn substantial incomes. One worker opined that the resort feels immune from pressure because of the strong connections to the resort owners (Universal Group) with the ruling class.