The causeway between Hoadedhdhoo, Gaafu Dhaal Atoll, linking to its neighbouring island, Madaveli, was carried out by the government despite the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report citing the project likely to cause damages to the agricultural fields of Hoadedhdhoo.
According to local news ‘Mihaaru’, the EIA report indicated that the agricultural fields of Hoadedhdhoo may be destroyed by building a causeway that linked the two islands situated in the same lagoon.
“The EIA report states the fields will face devastation. The government was aware of this information before its [the causeway] construction,” said a government official who wished to remain anonymous.
Hoadedhdhoo is an extensively agricultural island, with two-thirds of the island developed as croplands. In the last weeks, however, seawater seeped into the fields due to flood waves, following which the islanders reacted by breaking up the causeway using an excavator.
Vice President of the Madaveli Island Council Azzam Mohamed stated that the island was flooded to knee-level during the flood waves in September.
“Those familiar with these two islands predicted that seawater would seep into the island owing to the way the causeway had been built. This [venture] was political. The project was undertaken just ahead of local council elections. This was not built to meet the needs of our people.”
The reclaimed causeway blocks the flow of water between the islands, where the currents are strong during the monsoon season. This results in the rise of strong waves all around Hoadedhdhoo as well as over the causeway.
While the causeway features three openings along its length to allow water flow, the openings are reportedly too small to be effective.
"We tried to contact MTCC and the housing ministry about the waves rising over the causeway and into the island, but they didn't answer our calls. So we were forced to break up the causeway. Now they are upset and calling us," said the president of the opposition-led council.
"But our first responsibility is to protect the people. Now it is up to [the government] to do as they see fit."
President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, along with several others within the government, has strongly criticized the destruction of the causeway.
The causeway was contracted by Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC), had commenced in 2016 and was completed only last month. With an investment of MVR 29 million from the state budget, the causeway measures 440 metres in length and seven metres across.