The family of a young woman who was fatally injured by a falling metal post have asked President Abdulla Yameen to ensure that action is taken against government officials found to have been responsible for the accident.
Aishath Azfa Zuhair, 24, from the Lilac house in Seenu Hithadhoo, was hit by a metal post that fell from an old basketball hoop converted into a decorative coconut palm by the housing ministry for last month’s Independence Day celebrations. She died on Sunday while undergoing treatment for head and spine injuries.
The fatal accident sparked public outrage with the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and social media users calling on housing minister Dr Mohamed Muiz to resign. Critics say the ministry’s “negligence” is to blame for the accident and that Muiz must be held accountable.
The police are currently investigating the accident.
In a press statement today, the victim’s father, Abdulla Zuhair, said the family hopes the investigation will be concluded swiftly and that measures will be taken to ensure that similar accidents do not occur.
Zuhair – who is reportedly the executive director at the government utility company Fenaka Corporation’s office in Hithadhoo – also urged the public not to politicise the tragedy.
Zuhair said President Yameen had called the family after the accident and offered government assistance to fly the patient overseas for medical treatment.
The housing ministry had said that a speeding container truck was to blame for the accident. Azfa was on the passenger seat of a motorcycle when the truck hit the metal post and caused it to fall on her head. The vehicle belongs to the state-owned Maldives Ports Limited (MPL).
But a source familiar with the incident told The Maldives Independent that MPL container trucks would not travel at high speeds while carrying large containers.
The metal post was kept leaning against the wall of the housing ministry building on the southwest side of Malé, but the ministry said the metal post’s base had been securely mounted with iron rods.
At a press conference yesterday, Muiz said that an internal investigation has been carried out at the housing ministry, but did not reveal any details. He also assured that action will be taken if any employee is found to have been culpable.
A source from the housing ministry who wished to remain anonymous told The Maldives Independent that the metal post “was not mounted or securely fastened, it was very unstable and it clearly should not have been kept on the road that way.”
The source alleged that the ministry is “doing its best to portray this as an accident when it is the result of clear disregard for public safety.”
The MDP meanwhile put out a statement yesterday calling for Muiz’s resignation.
Iron rods and concrete bases used to mount Independence Day street decorations left on Malé’s streets weeks after the celebratory activities ended “shows that the minister has been negligent in fulfilling his responsibilities,” the party said.
The MDP contended that Malé’s traffic, cleanliness, and road safety have deteriorated since the housing ministry took over management of the capital’s roads from the opposition-dominated city council.
The party also accused the ministry of attempting to cover up its culpability and called for a thorough investigation.
Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Ali Hussain told The Maldives Independent that ministers in most democratic countries would resign in the wake of such an incident.
“But here in the Maldives, we cannot expect that from the ministers, even when their negligence becomes transparent to the public, they will not accept their negligence. Investigating this incident will be beneficial only if the negligent people accept it and try to reform,” he said.