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Dangerous debris endangers surfers at Raalhugandu

Ahmed Aiham
27 September 2018, MVT 16:39
Debris on the reef of Male’ homebreak – Raalhugandu
Ahmed Aiham
27 September 2018, MVT 16:39

Surfers have expressed concerns over dangerous debris left at the south-eastern coast of the city, particularly at the 'Varunulaa Raalhugandu' surfing spot nearby the Sinamale bridge.

A failure to properly dismantle and clean the location post construction has left surfers at Male's homebreak 'Varunulaa Raalhugandu' faced with severe risks.

The complaints come following a public announcement by the Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr. Mohamed Muizzu stating that "with the opening of the bridge, you can happily surf”.

Muizzu had previously declared Raalhugandu closed off for safety reasons during the construction phase of the Sinamale bridge.

Last week, the Housing Ministry made a public announcement urging surfers to be cautious as pillars from the temporary support platforms still remain standing.

Surfing in Raalhugandu was closed off in March 2016 with the commencement of the bridge development project and was re-opened this year on September 7.

The 2-year hiatus hit the surf community hard, as professional competitors found themselves having to travel much further to sustain their training routines, and maintain a competitive edge.

Saving the wave, under the bridge

President of the Maldives Bodyboarding Association Abdulla Areef (Fuku), took to Facebook posting pictures that revealed the current state of Raalhugandu’s reef bed, littered with pillars and construction materials left over from building the bridge.

“It’s likely that someone might end up with life-threatening injuries if you end up getting trashed on these pillars,” said the legendary surfer Fuku, describing the pillars as shifting and rolling over the reef, causing substantial damage.

Fuku has since requested the Ministry of Housing as well as the Ministry of Environment and Energy, to be vigilant in removing said pillars and debris from the sea.

In a statement given to the Edition, Maldives Surfing Association (MSA) said, “To begin with, Raalhugandu is a challenging spot to surf. Surfers have been known to hit the reef and require medical attention."

"These dangerous materials, however, make matters much worse as we cannot account for their movement the way we may learn the formation of the reef. Since the re-opening of Raalhugandu, two of our surfers have already attained head injuries requiring several stitches after being pummeled into the reef."

Dumping on local glory

Photos and videos on social media serve as evidence that rogue fragments of construction material have floated offsite during the various project phases, and well in its aftermath.

"It is simply not acceptable to have this debris in the water”, said MSA's spokesperson.

MSA’s Secretary General, Hasan Zaki, further elaborated on member and association concerns, highlighting the presence of sewerage pipes releasing contaminated water directly into surf break.

Zaki further reported that water bottles filled with urine had been thrown onto the surf break from the housing units of the Chinese workers built on the eastern coastline, and thus far the matter showed no signs of stopping.

The large majority of surfers in the island nation reside in the capital Male’ city and Raalhugandu, in particular, is widely known as 'the' proving grounds for local surfers.

Raalhugandu is a beloved surf spot responsible for the training of several local international gold-medalists and top-ranking athletes in the Maldives, and within the region as well.

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