The housing ministry has completed replacing cracked floor tiles on the Islamic centre’s courtyard, less than ten months after the praying area of the capital’s largest mosque was extended with a marble floor.
“Islamic centre ‘pattern area’ rectified,” Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz announced Sunday night and the courtyard was opened to the public the next day.
The project to lay marble tiles on a floor area exceeding 4,200 square meters was initially completed in June 2016 with grant aid worth US$1.14 million from the Chinese government.
However, a month later, cracks began appearing on the blue, pink and green marble flooring, prompting criticism of the housing ministry and allegations of corruption.
Local media later reported that the housing ministry had used ceramic tiles instead of marble.
Six months after the courtyard was opened, the ministry walled off the area again to redo the flooring.
Muiz at the time blamed the contractors for using low-quality materials and failing to carry out the work to the standard required by the ministry. He said the contractor would redo the flooring free of charge.
The housing ministry, which took over municipal tasks from the opposition-dominated city council two years ago, has been under fire over several projects in Malé that required further work and constant maintenance after completion.
In February, Muiz defended the maintenance work done on the Rasfannu beach, a new artificial beach developed on the western waterfront of the capital, insisting that the government was not paying for the refurbishment.
After Rasfannu was completed in February 2016 at a cost of US$2.5 million, several truckloads of sand were dumped when the beach eroded during tidal surges in the southwestern monsoon.
A month later, the beach was closed for swimmers after an underwater sewage pipe burst open.
A 700-meter jogging track developed near the Rasfannu beach by a Singaporean company also drew criticism over delays and the quality of work. A local company was later enlisted to repair the track after the synthetic rubber layer unravelled.
Prior to the opening of Malé’s second artificial beach, a local youth group had warned that sewage outflow from pipes in the area and medical waste from the nearby Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital pose serious dangers to swimmers.
The biggest damage to the surrounding reef is caused by sewage pipes and garbage dumped into the sea, theDhiYouth Movement NGO said.
In response, the health ministry said: “Regular monitoring tests of the new Artificial beach water show no faecal contamination and meet the standards for recreational water.”
But Raajje TV meanwhile commissioned independent tests and found “dangerous levels” of Enterococcus and fecal coliform bacteria, which can cause urinary tract infections, typhoid and gastroenteritis.
The Environmental Impact Assessment report for Rasfannu had found that the project could cause water pollution and reef slope failure.
The report noted that continuous and careful monitoring would be needed to ensure the safety of swimmers.
According to Raajje TV, the EIA for the beach project was conducted without adequate sample testing of the water.