Security stepped up for utility companies after attempted arson attacks

Security stepped up for utility companies after attempted arson attacks
October 07 17:18 2015

Soldiers were on guard outside the Malé Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC) last night after arsonists attempted to set fire to powerhouses in the capital’s suburbs Hulhumalé and Vilimalé.

At least four soldiers were seen outside the MWSC building in Malé last night.

In December 2014, a fire at the MWSC’s desalination plant left the capital’s 130,000 residents without running water for nine days.

In the early hours of Tuesday, a small plastic bottle filled with petrol was thrown into the powerhouse of Vilimalé by a group of men, who had forced their way in after breaking a fence.

“Nothing was damaged because the fire was spotted and set out very quickly. We have reported the incident to the police now,” said Abdulla Nazir, Assistant Director of the State Electricity Company (STELCO), which operates the powerhouse.

Two days earlier, around 3:00m on Sunday morning, a fire broke out at a Maldives Gas shop in Hulhumalé. The police said at the time that a doormat caught on fire and spread to the door.

The police and officers from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) fire and rescue service put out the fire before it spread inside the shop.

It is unclear whether the shop was deliberately set on fire.

Meanwhile, around 3:15am on September 28, an engine at the STELCO powerhouse in Hulhumalé was set on fire, causing a power outage for an hour in the reclaimed artificial island.

Arsonists reportedly broke in through a fence, doused the engine with petrol, and set it on fire. Employees on duty at the time used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. The engine was severely damaged.

A police media official told The Maldives Independent that the cases were under investigation and declined to reveal any details.

The MNDF spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

The first incident occurred hours before a blast on the president’s speedboat last week.

Three soldiers were arrested yesterday. Citing the findings of foreign forensic experts, Mohamed Hussain Shareef, presidential affairs minister, told Reuters that the blast had been an assassination attempt.

Correction: October 17, 2015: This article previously said two soldiers and an immigration official were arrested in connection to the boat blast. This is incorrect. All three arrested over the explosion are MNDF officers. An immigration official was never arrested in this case.