Prices of new land for sale in Maldives capital spark public outcry

One of the houses up for sale in Male PHOTO/MIHAARU

One of the houses up for sale in Male PHOTO/MIHAARU

The Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure on Wednesday declared that the recently announced 19 plots of land up for sale in capital Male City will be sold at the rate of MVR 15,000 per square feet.

This puts the total value of the new plots of land up for sale at approximately MVR 792 million.

The housing ministry on Tuesday announced that the state-owned half of the historic ‘Maafannuge’ on Orchid Magu and three plots from the area where ‘Dhandeheluge’ house in Maafannu ward used to be, are now up for sale.

Other areas for sale are some land on the outermost Boduthakurufaanu Magu of Male, which includes: six plots of land on the now-cleared, former waste disposal site in Male, and 10 plots to the west of Villa College, where State Trading Organisation (STO)’s ready-mix concrete factory used to be.

The ministry has since announced the exact sizes of the new land that is up for sale as well.

From the ‘Dhandeheluge’ area, a land area of 5559.40 square metres, and 5812.40 square metres are available.

From the former waste disposal site in Male, a plot of 5219.85 square metres, two plots of 4985.08 square metres, three plots of 5233.19 square metres, and four plots of 4377.03 square metres of land are available.

The land for sale on the Boduthakurufaanu front, where STO’s ready-mix concrete factory used to be are comparatively larger than the rest; a plot of land of 7683.41 square metres, two plots of 7201.21 square metres, and three plots of 6551.88 square metres of land are available for sale, according to the housing ministry.

The ministry has also extended the date to submit proposals for the new land available in the capital. Interested parties now have from August 27 till September 14 to submit their proposals.

The land will be sold through a bidding process, where the highest bid for a plot of land will be advertised on the ministry’s website till 8:00 a.m. of the following day.

The land will be awarded to the highest bidder at the time the bidding process expires, the housing ministry said.

Public Reaction & Minister’s Response

Housing minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu speaks during the press conference. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

Housing minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu speaks during the press conference. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN

Following the announcement of the government’s decision to sell land from prime locations in the busy capital, many had criticised the government, calling it an ‘elitist’ and an ‘unfair’ move.

Many citizens expressed their outrage on social media, saying that the new land up for sale will not be affordable for average Maldivian citizens. Some had claimed that the land was put up for sale just for the wealthy families in Male, and said that it is not fair for the rest of the citizens.

“Only the people who already own a lot of land in Male or Hulhumale will be able to afford the new plots up for sale. The government needs to stray away from policies that would benefit the wealthy; the previous governments had done the same thing too and it just results in ‘the rich getting richer’” an activist who wanted to remain anonymous said.

“This is the furthest thing from the “affordable housing” that was pledged to us at the beginning of the president’s term,” an individual claimed on social media – a sentiment that was ‘shared’ by many.

The Deputy Mayor of Male City, Shamau Shareef also implied that the ministry had a target market in sight when the announcement was made.

“Announcement made to sell massive land plots in Male – interested parties given nine days to submit proposals. We will see who the government has decided to give land to,” the deputy mayor tweeted.

The housing minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu refuted the allegations on Wednesday and claimed that the decision to put land up for sale from the capital was for the “benefit of the public.”

The minister had also responded via Twitter saying, “selling land in Male would enrich the lives of the Maldivian citizens,” and that it is being done “within the confines of the law”.

Land in Male is extremely scarce, and due to the overwhelmingly large population living in the 2 km radius of Male City, the rent in the capital is exceptionally high.

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