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‘Lethal’ debris from Maldives bridge construction at surf point

Raalhugandu was fenced off in 2016 for the construction of a bridge.



Large metal pipes are among the construction debris left at the capital’s popular surf point, which reopened in August following the completion of a US$200 million bridge.

The surf point, commonly known as Raalhugandu, was fenced off in January 2016 for the construction of the Sinamalé Bridge that was inaugurated recently.

The government last week advised surfers to be cautious of waste left there, Mihaaru reported.

Housing Minister Mohamed Muizzu said the area was closed off to protect surfers from any possible injuries while construction work was ongoing.

Local surfer and president of the Maldives Bodyboarding Association, Abdulla “Fuku” Areef, wrote about the waste on Facebook and included photos.

“This is how Raalhugandu looks so far after it was opened following the completion of the bridge. Landing on one of these pipes is likely to cause a lethal injury.

“As pipes are rolling around on the reef, the reef has also been damaged. Request to take these materials and clean this area.”

The president of the Maldives Surfing Association Ahmed ‘Karo’ Fauzan said the tip of a large metal pipe could be seen, almost upright, around 20 feet from the shore.

Karo said he had seen officials in the water trying to work out how to remove the pipes, but that bad weather and big waves were making it difficult.

“A process for how the pipes are to be removed should be in the Environmental Impact Assessment but it is not there,” he said.

Karo said an experienced surfer would know how to avoid the pipes but that a newcomer was likely to be injured.

A sewage pipe from the headquarters of a Chinese bridge maintenance crew is also at Raalhugandu.

“We fear that if we speak about this the government may close the area for use all over again. Raalhugandu has been destroyed beyond repair, it’s not the same, it’s just accessible now.”

He said the reef could take between two and three years to heal.

“The waves have changed a lot. Not in a good way, they are much stronger now. We only use Raalhugandu partially, dodging debris any way we can. We love to surf and Raalhugandu is the only point in Malé, so we surf even at our own risk,” Karo said.

Photo: Abdulla Fuku Areef