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Malé makeover modelled on Tokyo

Plans to redevelop Malé City by vacating five slum-like neighbourhoods are based on the model of Tokyo, Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizz said Friday night.



Plans to redevelop Malé City by vacating five slum-like neighbourhoods are based on the model of Tokyo, Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizz said Friday night.

Appearing on the state broadcaster, Muizz said “urban development and land readjustment” were most successfully carried out in the Japanese capital, the world’s most populous metropolitan area.

“Implementing this the way it was done in Tokyo is our aim,” he said, adding that the vacated plots would make way for open spaces and parks.

The housing ministry has announced plans to vacate seven blocks from the Maafannu West district of the capital after providing flats to 256 families living in cramped quarters.

Four more areas have been identified in Malé to offer flats under future housing schemes, Muizz said, without disclosing the districts.

“We have conducted a detailed survey and created a plan. These places need to be vacated for redevelopment,” he said.

The minister’s remarks about Tokyo have been seized upon by opposition supporters on social media, with many ridiculing the present administration’s much-trumpeted goal to transform the Maldives to Singapore.

Muizz has been overseeing rapid changes to Malé’s landscape with a new artificial beach, 11 new parks, pedestrianised zones, an industrial village, and expansion of the outer road.

Last week, the government announced the sale of 27 plots of land taken under the third phase of the previous administration’s Veshi Fahi Malé programme, which also offered flats in exchange for relinquishing small homes.

Under the first and second phases of the programme, 37 and 66 plots respectively were previously put up for sale at the rate of MVR2,000 (US$130) per square foot, according to the housing ministry.

During the hour-long interview, Muizz also spoke about fulfilling President Abdulla Yameen’s 2013 campaign pledge to provide housing for newly-weds. Construction of one-bedroom apartments are ongoing in Hulhumalé, a new urban centre under development near the capital, he said.

Yameen’s administration plans to relocate and settle 70 percent of the country’s 338,000 population – nearly 40 percent of whom reside in the 2.2 square mile island of Malé – to the ‘Youth City.’ A Chinese-financed bridge connecting the capital with the airport island and Hulhumalé is expected to be complete this year.

Muizz went on to dismiss allegations of corruption in awarding from the Gedhoruverikan social housing scheme, defending the publication of the list of successful applicants without names.

leaked list that circulated on social media last month was “totally fabricated” as “something that does not exist cannot be leaked,” he said.

“Our database and documents have only one list which was publicised earlier,” he said.

In September, the anti-corruption watchdog launched a probe into the anonymised list after numerous complaints. Some applicants also alleged they were phoned by the first lady’s campaign office to check their political allegiance.

Some 661 flat winners were chosen from more than 15,000 applicants. They are required to pay MVR25,000 as down payment and a monthly rent of MVR6,000 for the three-bedroom flats.

Photos: Public Service Media