Members of the public proposed solutions to the congestion of Malé’s roads at an open forum Monday night with president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
The Jazeera Holhuashi forum was the first of a series of town hall-style meetings planned across the country to seek public opinion to formulate the incoming administration’s policies.
“God willing, the work of our government will be based on public consultation and listening to the people,” Solih said in his introductory remarks.
Echoing his Jazeera Raajje (island nation) campaign slogan, Solih said the Maldives must be developed through decentralisation to make the capital a more peaceful and liveable place.
The forum’s topic was the state of the capital’s narrow roads, which are used by a fleet of more than 800 four-wheeled vehicles and more than 90,000 motorcycles. After decades of internal migration, the 2.2 square mile island of Malé is one the most densely populated cities in the world with over 150,000 residents, nearly 40 percent of the country’s population.
Trash, traffic jams and lack of parking space were among the problems raised by participants.
Fathimath Yoosuf, whose son had been in a coma following an accident in Hulhumalé in May, asked for helmets to be made mandatory.
All public offices needs to be moved to Hulhumalé, a reclaimed island suburb of the capital, suggested Mohamed Farooq.
The maintenance of Malé’s roads needs to be undertaken by the city council, which was stripped of its powers and responsibilities by the outgoing President Abdulla Yameen’s administration, he added.
There were calls to stop the import of new vehicles and to introduce a proper building code and new regulations for the unloading of goods.
The capital needs disaster evacuation plans, said Maeed Mohamed Zahir, who hoped to see a “green Malé” with coconut palm trees, roadside plants and public trash cans.
Nearly 200 people attended the forum at the Dharubaaruge convention centre. Along with lawmakers and councillors representing Malé City, former president Mohamed Nasheed, Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim, Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla and vice president-elect Faisal Naseem were in attendance.
“I am very hopeful for this presidency, I hope the suggestions today will be included in the policies for the next government,” one of the attendees, Mariyam Saeeda, 31, told the Maldives Independent.
Suggestions can be mailed to [email protected]