The southernmost atoll and city of Maldives, Addu City is the home to some 33,000 people along with rich marine ecosystems and thousands of migratory birds. The city consists of seven inhabited districts of which five are connected by a 16 kilometer long causeway commonly referred to as the Addu Link Road. It joins Hithadhoo, Maradhoo, Maradhoo-feydhoo, Feydhoo, and Gan while the remaining two islands are co-joined somewhat 15 kilometers away from these islands.
Since its development in 2001, Addu Link Road has proved as a useful and trustworthy route to travel from one island to another. The road is used nonstop by from all the joint districts day and night.
According to the 2018 statistics of Transport Authority of Maldives, Addu City consists of the second most number of registered vehicles, right after the capital Male’ city. This alone shows that the roads of Addu are used frequently by its residents and that it is very important for the roads to be in good condition for everyone to be safe in the city.
However, since 2014, the Addu Link Road has not been properly developed and left for the citizens to trip and fall into the small and large holes that are in the middle of the road. While most of these holes were a result of heavy rain fall in the city, some people claim that the roads were intentionally dug and created to blame the government.
The pictures above shows the condition of the road that Addu citizen have to use in order to travel from one district to another. While the maximum speed to drive in the link road is set as 60km/h, a vehicle going at only 30km/h even has to slow down every 20-30 mins in order to get through these bunch of holes in the middle of the road. If one doesn’t slow down, the only outcome is either damage in their vehicles or injury to the people in it and in some cases, it causes accidents as well.
So how can anyone properly drive around the city? What happens when there is an emergency? Some people may have adapted to driving in these damaged roads, but not everyone is capable of avoiding every single pothole in the city.
This has been going on for over five years, enough time for a presidential term to end and another term to start. And yet, no government has taken the responsibility of permanently fixing the potholes that are in Addu Link Road.
Addu link road has been filled with approximately 60% of potholes for over many years now. Surely the politicians have said that they will fix the roads, they will develop it and make it brand new, but words will remain words until someone actually takes the responsibility of making it true.
While the link road of Addu City is at such a bad condition, how bad can the remaining roads be?
The remaining roads of Addu City either are filled with dust and sand or flooded with water majority of the times. If it rains for even a day in the city, the roads are filled with water and it is barely possible for the people to transport in them.
While there are sewage drains built all around the paved main road of Addu City, majority of them, or possibly all of them are either broken, damaged or filled with garbage. This is why, the only way to get rid of the water that is gathered up on the road is either when it gets evaporated due to the heat or when they are drained out of the road by authorities.
One of the common solution of the city council is to fill up the whole road with sand in order to fix it and make it easier for the people to drive when the road is damaged. But, in most cases, these sand areas are met by the rain fall which tends to creates a large muddy area in the road making it even more difficult and risky for citizens to travel.
Years passed and the country has developed at a fast rate. New parks, new sea terminals, new airports and new roads have been developed or built in different atolls of the country, but the development of the roads in Addu City, specifically the main link road of Addu City remains the same.
Although the potholes were filled with sand or paving as a temporary method, they only remained for a few days until it starts raining again or until they are reformed due to the heavy load of vehicles.
While Addu was neglected and left out during the previous administration without proper development from 2013-2018, one of the main reason why majority of Addu City citizens voted for the current president, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was because he assured the citizens that he would bring great developments to the city.
Now it has been over two years since President Solih’s administrations and no proper developments have still been seen in the city. This is why people have started raising their voice against the government saying that they will not vote for him again, as the city is still at the same condition as it has been for years.
However, lately, the authorities have given several announcements regarding the development of Addu City giving hopes to the citizens again.
On September, the government revealed that they have brought necessary equipment and materials needed to develop the Addu City roads. The project worth of about USD 147.1 million will be used only to develop the roads of the city and to also reclamation of 228 hectares of land.
The authorities further revealed that by 2022, Addu city will have about 40 km of paved roads, street lights and CCTV coverage for all islands of Addu. In addition to this, the city is also expected to have a new 4-lane bypass through the shallow back-reef on the ocean side connecting Hithadhoo and Maradhoo.
But only time will tell whether these projects will actually be completed or whether the hopes of Addu citizens will be crushed yet again.
Nevertheless, just like how several roads have been developed in different atolls of the country over the past six years, doesn’t Addu City, a city consisting of a mass amount of population and vehicles need to have its roads developed as well?
Even if not fully renewed and developed, at least, doesn’t the city deserve to have roads that are drivable? I think we all can agree that all citizens deserve to have roads that are safe and that Addu City is one of the most important city that is in need of such safety right now.
So, the same question that has been raised for years is raised again, when will the development of Addu roads begin?