Won’t vote for MDP unless projects break ground: Addu people

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (R) with a supporter from Addu during his 2018 presidential campaign | Photo: Flicker

People of Addu have started to voice our their grievances regarding delayed developmental projects and have started to say that they would not vote for Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidates during the upcoming local council election unless the projects break ground.

The most recent backlash came after the Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail said that there are over MVR 5 Billion worth projects which were ongoing in Addu City.

While speaking at an interview of the local media outlet, “RaajjeTv”, Minister Fayyaz informed that the incumbent government is currently working on approximately MVR 5 Billion worth projects in Addu City. Minister Fayyaz added that the construction of the 40 Kilometer road in Addu is currently at the tendering stage and that this project is being carried out by the neighboring country of India.

Minister Fayyaz continued to say that in the near future, they will be clearing 2-3 small islands in Addu for resort purposes. He said that hopefully this will increase tourism rate in the southern part of Maldives.

Earlier this year, Economic Minister Ismail Fayyaz had said that the estimated amount required to be invested in Addu City to make it comfortable and desirable to live in was around USD 300 million. He also said that this amount had been arranged including the budget for the development of 8,000 beds in city hotels and some resorts as well.

President Solih himself announced a project of value MVR 5.3 billion for Addu City, just this year on March 8. Speaking about the projects, 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.

Former President and Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed had told that Addu projects would be starting in March 2020, during his visit to the city in late 2019. During a speech he gave at Feydhoo MDP office during his visit to Addu City, he said that according to the Minister of Finance and Treasury, the budget allocated for Addu would be greater than that of Male’. Also stated that the budget for roads, harbours as well as the airport and electricity issues had been already been received by the Maldivian government from the Indian EXIM Bank.

Even though Speaker of Nasheed had said the same thing on November 2019, the promised large scale projects other than the harbor development ones had not actually started until now.

People from Addu City have been criticizing and questioning whether the presidential pledges of the government to the city would be fulfilled within the remaining three years of this presidency at the rate at which the projects are being processed.

People have pointed out that with a 100 percent MDP council and parliament members of Addu, that projects are too slow and few projects had actually commenced the physical work stage. One of the simplest failures of the current MDP council and the government to fulfill projects has been the city square which was supposed to be completed within the first 100 days of this government. However, until date the place has not been fully done, while Male’ Lonuziyaaraiy park had been fully developed with a budget of MVR 16 Million and opened this November 11.

Addu people have also raised their concerns on the resorts in the atoll temporarily suspending their operations. Specially with Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa which had suspended it’s operations without any date for reopening. In addition to this, Canareef resort had also shut down amid the Covid-19 pandemic which has left many people from Addu without any source of income.

Furthermore, with the recent announcement from the government to develop an international airport in the neighboring Huvadhoo atoll, which is roughly 20 minutes flight from Addu, has also made Addu people to question whether the government truly wants to develop Gan International Airport in Addu City to be the regional hub for international air traffic for the southern four atolls. People have highlighted that by having international airports at such close proximity, it would divert traffic from Gan International Airport and at the end result in an underutilized airport.

While the government had included an international airport in Huvadhoo atoll, the government had recently announced the restart of the Addu-Huvadhoo seaplane operations which is to commence by the end of this month. Question now being asked is what’s the governments ultimate plan with all these overlapping developmental projects and plans. Gan International Airport, the first airport which was built in Maldives, has always been neglected while the airport in Hulhule’ has been continuously being developed by the government.

With 67.8 percent of the voters from Addu putting their faith and hopes in Ibrahim Mohamed Solih during the 2018 Presidential Elections, people of Addu have higher expectations for the development of the city with his administration. The biggest reason why Addu people had not voted for the Former President Yameen was also this reason. Addu was neglected and left out during the previous administration due to various reason and at the end of the day, the general public had to suffer from the lack of development.

After the presidential election, people gave all the seven parliament seats of Addu City to MDP with the same high hopes as well. However, people are now saying that they would not be voting for MDP’s candidates for the upcoming local council elections unless the promised projects kick off. Not just on paper but actual physical works of the projects begin. People have started to raise their voice and have said it’s time that they blindly voted for a certain party and that they would be voting for people who fulfill their dreams, their hopes and what they were promised for their votes.