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'Hiyaa' housing list delayed due to COVID-19: Govt

Ahmed Aiham
04 August 2020, MVT 12:14
The social housing towers developed under the Hiyaa Project in Hulhumale's second phase. PHOTO: AHMED AWSHAN ILYAS / MIHAARU
Ahmed Aiham
04 August 2020, MVT 12:14

The presidential committee investigating the issues related to the controversial distribution of the 7,000 'Hiyaa' housing units, attributed the delays in issuing official guarantees to recipients, to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the committee, the delay was caused after a committee member tested positive for the virus on July 28, thus necessitating the remaining members to be quarantined during contact tracing efforts.

In response to growing criticism over the setbacks, Minister of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure Mohamed Aslam had previously stated that the list would be publicised at the end of July, as guaranteed by the committee.

The committee was preparing to initially disclose the recipients of the housing units for three categories which include doctors, teachers and residents of capital city Male', before announcing the recipients for other categories.

As per the circular released by the committee, it stated that efforts to finalize the list for the three categories were almost completed.

In early 2019, the committee declared that the administration of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom was negligent in the distribution of the flats.

The committee has assessed the living condition of over 12,000 individuals for the revision of the final recipients list publicised by the former administration.

In the past, major concerns have also been raised over the size and interior of the flats.

Furthermore, a number of people have spoken up about the ill-thought design and space allocation throughout the apartments, noting poor ventilation features, lack of toilet space as well as washing and drying allocations.

In addition, the Yameen administration had initially planned to distribute the Hiyaa apartments to recipients without completing finishing works such as installing doors and lights, painting and tiling the walls and floors.

The move had drawn contempt from the current government including President Solih, describing it as another burden to be borne by the flat buyers. The govt had then declared plans to take an additional loan of USD 45 million to cover the finishing prior to handover.

However, among increasing complaints from the public over the delay, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced the government's U-turn on the decision. He stated that handing over the flats without the finishing works, as per the previous administration's plan, was the only solution to prevent more delays.