Malé City’s northern waterfront is once again under construction with the presidential pier and the Republic Square closed to the public for further renovations. Two massive pine trees at the main square have also been uprooted.
Just a street inland from the main square, a monument between the Sultan Park and the Islamic Center has also been removed as part of plans to expand the Islamic Center’s grounds for mass prayers.
The presidential pier, now renamed Izzudeen pier, and the Republic Square with a brand new water fountain were re-opened on July 31 and July 24, respectively. Renovations were to be completed by July 26, the Golden Jubilee of Independence from the British.
The state-owned Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) has come under fire for closing down the area, just days after holding grand celebrations with fireworks to inaugurate the Republic Square and the presidential pier.
Criticism has also been leveled at the Housing Ministry for uprooting trees at the main square. A spokesperson said the trees had to be removed because they were overgrown and will be replaced by smaller trees.
Minister of Housing Dr Mohamed Muiz in a tweet last night said: “The damaged trees in Jumhooree maidhaan being removed to be replace with new trees.”
Several social media users have also claimed the ministry had removed the monument in front of the Sultan Park and is pedestrianizing the area over President Abdulla Yameen’s alleged paranoid fear that cursed objects had been buried in the area.
The government has dismissed the claims, saying some 25,000 people will now be able to pray in the expanded Islamic Center grounds.
The roads between the Islamic Square and Sultan Park are to be pedestrianized as well.
Although Malé’s thoroughfare Chaandhanee Magu was previously a one-way road, sections of it will now become a two-way road. Sections of the adjoining Lily Magu, the road south of the Sultan Park will also become a two-way street.
In October last year, masked men chopped down all of Malé City’s Areca Palms. Anonymous officials of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) told local media the palms were cut down because President Yameen believed they were cursed. When the Malé City Council attempted to replant the trees, the cabinet took over the city’s roads.