Addu City, Maldives – No political power has been able to win an election in the Maldives without the support of the people of the atoll. They are deemed as the deciding voters in each poll. Each politician takes it upon themselves to go before them, with a mic in their hands and shower them with sweet promises for one reason. It is impossible to win a presidential or parliamentary election in the country, with out the blessing of the atoll’s people – Addu City.
In all major elections of the past, saw how crucial it is for them to secure the Addu voting pool. The perfect example of this are the most recent Presidential and Parliamentary elections, which saw the Addu ballot boxes hand over a super majority to the current ruling party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and the previous Presidential elections which saw former President Yameen Abdul Qayyoom come onto power and lose after his first term. As usual, it turns out that for the politicians, the promise given to Adduans was simply a necessity of the past, while the word broken is a necessity of the present.
The 23rd of September, 2018 is the year President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the Presidential elections. During his campaign, he made multiple visits to various islands of Addu City, each trip with more promises of development and opportunities – something which Yameen failed to follow through on. Some would even argue that Yameen’s downfall in the elections was precisely because of his neglectfulness towards the city. Surely people would not vote for the president who did not fulfill their desires. A lesson learned there.
But now, many are left wondering if the revolutionary change brought about in these elections were worth the months of campaigns and hours of standing in voting queues. Although the presidency is yet to mark the two year anniversary, two years have passed since President Solih won the elections. Yet, the people of Addu still await the “mega” projects that were once promised to them. It is not with disregard to the harbor renovations currently ongoing in the city, but the people of the second largest population in the country were promised projects with direct benefits to the residents – something which still remains an empty promise.
Since the election, several pro-government persons have taken to stages and television programs as well as local headlines with a little detail of these mega projects here and there, many as times. These details have surely lit some light of hope in the hearts of the people, but what good are details and promises unless fulfilled? So the question begs, have the people of Addu been conned yet again?
Previously, Economic Minister Ismail Fayyaz had revealed that the estimated amount required to be invested in Addu City, to make it comfortable desirable to live in is around USD 300 million. He also revealed that this amount has been arranged for the development of 8000 beds in city hotels and some resorts as well. But any one who looks around the city of Addu would wonder where this development is. Given the timing, the government can easily blame it on the on going pandemic. But for a city almost unaffected by the virus, many have been asking why the commencement is being so delayed despite the funding being arranged. How much longer do the people have to wait and listen as the top tier personnel speak on television programs and news articles about how the city is an important economic hub?
What is questionable further is how the people have been lead to believe that this development would be fairly easy and simple, but only with a super majority, in which the government would require the support of the Parliament. In the 2019 Parliamentary elections, the people of Addu delivered. A super majority was delivered with voters in favour of the ruling party like never before. Yet even with the Parliament, the people still await even a commemorative placement of as little as a brick towards the high hopes they have for their home city.
In addition to what the Minister has said on record, President Solih himself, has announced a project of value MVR 5.3 billion for Addu City, just this 8th of March. Speaking about the project, he said that the country would only prosper and develop when areas other than Male’ are developed, for which, the government has big plans for Addu City. He even said that the plans originated from Addu itself and that his role is to merely execute and make the dreams of Addu a reality.
In this project, increasing the bed capacity of the city to 8000, land reclamation, developing the Addu port to an international standard, developing 17km in roads of the city, as well as fishing harbors, fish processing factories along with finding a permanent solution to the long lasting electricity issues of the city were some the President mentioned. Apart from this, he also revealed that a sports complex of great value to the community, a swimming pool and a football ground were also some of the developmental areas highlighted under the project.
But with just three years left for the administration, is the government really under the belief that they can pull of all these developmental projects the night before the assignment is due as if these are university assignments? This is not just one bridge – which at the time of Yameen’s administration, the people behind the current administration questioned whether five years was sufficient for such a project.
Today, the people of Addu ask the same question to the government. Is there enough time to see through the promises? If not, it is high time politicians stopped toying with the people of the city for their convenience during elections each time. And the eleventh hour for the people of Addu to realize that it is useless to hold a person to anything they say while they are in love, drunk, or running for office.