Connect with us

Society & Culture

Work stopped in 17 construction sites

Site inspections were launched following the death of a girl who was hit by a falling cement bag. 



Construction work has been stopped in 17 buildings in the Greater Malé region after the authorities launched inspections following the death of a girl who was hit by a falling cement bag.

Work stop orders were issued for three sites in Malé, two sites in the capital’s island suburb Villimalé, and 12 sites in the new urban centre Hulhumalé, the planning ministry informed the press at a briefing Thursday afternoon.

The work was halted until immediate measures are taken for compliance with safety standards.

As of Wednesday, surveyors completed inspects at 104 out of 167 sites in Malé, 16 out of 18 sites in Villimalé, 117 out of 275 sites in Hulhumalé have been checked.

The surveyors found problems in 163 sites – including 69 sites in Malé, 15 sites in Villimalé, and 79 sites in Hulhumalé – and instructed contractors to adhere to regulations.

Violations included leaving equipment on the road, inadequate fencing, and lack of measures to prevent objects from falling.

The existing legal framework includes the 2017 Construction Act and Malé planning regulations.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Mohamed Aslam said regulations under the construction law should have been enacted by last March. The new administration’s target is to send safety regulations for approval by the Attorney General’s office next week, he said.

The Architects Association and Engineers Association have been invited to submit feedback by next Tuesday.

The existing rules cover most safety issues and pledged to carry out regular inspections in collaboration with the Malé City Council and other agencies.

Aslam also noted that two of the three sites where work was stopped in Malé have since taken corrective measures

“It is not our purpose at all to stop construction work. But it has to be done in a way that does not compromise the safety and security of the general public and workers,” he said.

A police investigation is under way into the fatal accident that occurred last Sunday, he noted.

The death of seven-year-old Rawshan Jian, the daughter of two Bangladeshi doctors working in the Maldives, prompted a public outcry and concern over safety measures.

Horrific video footage of the accident on Sunday morning shows the bag fall on the girl in a cloud of cement mix as she was walking on the pavement ahead of her mother.

It fell from the fifth floor of Maafannu Nalahiya Manzil, a 10-storey building under construction by the W Construction company. The torn sack fell through a hole in the safety net while workers were lifting cement bags to the sixth floor.

In the wake of the tragic accident, the authorities suspended issuing permits as President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ordered inspections of all construction sites in the capital and “a thorough review of the current safety regulations for construction sites.”

On Monday, a group of lawyers filed a public interest litigation to enact rules required under the construction law and enforce safety measures specified in the Malé planning regulation.

The lawyers sought a stay order to immediately halt work at all construction sites in Malé until safety measures and permit checks are verified. Failure to enact regulations and enforce measures is a violation of the constitution, they argued.

But the calls to halt ongoing projects were condemned by the Maldives Association of Construction Industry, which warned of irrevocable losses.