AAM and HDC were invited by MNPHI to a meeting on 10 September 2020 to follow up on the letter to the ministry by AAM regarding the Hiyaa 7000 Observation Report. State Minister Mohamed Ali introduced the aim of the meeting was to discuss the issues raised by AAM in their report. They wanted to explain what is being done and discuss AAM’s engagement in future projects.
Representatives from HDC explained that many issues raised by AAM are being attended and that an internal audit of the project will identify all issues and will be attended. They explained that some of the issues raised by AAM were oversights of AAM because of the scale and incomplete stage of the project. Regarding approvals, they explained that due to the fast track nature and prerequisites of the government, many regulations and approval processes were not as per their other projects. All permits were given but through a different process.
Regarding planning, HDC explained that there is a masterplan for the area of Hiyaa 7000 project which includes other facilities. Development of 2 parks, 3 mosques, parking and internal roads are underway. 6 schools will be built targeted for this development. Areas will be designated for social amenities and commercial use. There will also be a police station within the development. However, they stressed that the population density of the buildings cannot be reduced because the building structure has shear walls. HDC considered 18 different options to improve layout and reduce density. Officials from the ministry also confirmed that the present density of the project will not be reduced.
Regarding the design, HDC explained that the design was done by the contractor according to guidelines given by the President’s office and Housing Ministry. They explained that the handrail complies with their planning regulation but agrees that they are not safe for children. It will cost MVR 36million to rectify the handrails. They highlighted that the windows opening to the corridors may not be the best solution but are common to many social housing projects. They noted the ventilation issue of windows was a mistake by the contractor and has been instructed to rectify.
Regarding the fire safety issue, HDC did not feel there are serious issues because the fire stairs are pressurised with one-hour fire rating and MNDF has the capacity of fire and rescue. MNDF fire drills have already started. Officials from the Ministry specifically highlighted that MNDF fire department was consulted and that they have reassured that the building is fire-safe. HDC noted that there will be CCTV, management offices, police station and access control lobby in all buildings.
AAM members highlighted that their observation report is not an inspection report and that a proper inspection is required to identify the issues of the project. They called for an independent inspection and design audit of the project free from political influence. AAM welcomed the ministry’s intention to engage them in future projects. AAM advised that the procedure should be a public and technical consultation process for all public projects.
Regarding planning, AAM concerns still remains regarding density and requested to view the masterplans related to Hiyaa7000. They requested for definitions of social and affordable housing. Regarding building security and safety, AAM insisted that public needs assurance of security and safety and it cannot be compromised. HDC assured public safety and security in the project. An independent inspection is the only way to check the assurances given by HDC.