Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our capital Male' - making the place livable

Osaka, Japan is on the top 6 of the most expensive places in the world, compiled by CNBC (http://www.cnbc.com/id/37996537?slide=6). In Osaka, a luxury two bedroom costs $2,218 as rent. In Male', Maldives, it is $1,400. Likewise, comparing few other things:

Osaka Male'
2 room apt rent 2,218.00 1,400.78

cup of coffee 6.10 2.72

gasoline liter 1.41 0.70

fast food meal 7.21 7.00
(In US Dollars)

Male' has become such an expensive city, as cost of living has increased dramatically over the last six years, and it is still on the rise. What led to the sudden transformation of Male'; migration of many from the atolls in search of jobs, better health care and better education. As the population increase, it creates a bigger market for the businesses, and hence, more jobs are being created. This led to attraction of more people to settle in Male'. So, it is a vicious cycle of increasing urbanisation. The 2004 tsunami was a shock that intensified the situation, after which the rent prices in Male' hiked alarmingly as there was a sudden flow of migrants from the atolls, thus, boosting demand.

It makes economic sense to have a large population, and there are many commercial benefits of it. However, not at the expense of the deteriorating social fabric of the society, and the low quality of life as more than hundred thousand people live on the small island of Male'. Large families live in small rooms, husband and wife do not get their privacy, children do not have enough space to study and run around, youth do not have enough entertainment opportunities, and the list goes on.

Another drawback is the extremely high rent prices in Male', eating up a high proportion of the income of many workers. Hence, teachers, doctors and other civil servants have no choice, but demand higher salaries. These huge salaries again lead to further increasing prices of goods and services, together with rent prices.

In order to prevent further migration, and to reduce the population of Male', other atolls, or other city centers with bigger land space need to be developed. Places like Hulhumale', and other big islands like those in the South. An immediate and urgent attention has to be given to this matter, and what's most important is the political will to do so. If housing units can be developed in Hulhumale', and attractive financing packages arranged, government can easily afford to reduce the salaries of the civil servants. If the teachers and other civil servants are given cheap accommodation, they should be willing to accept even a lower salary than their present one.

It is extremely important that government policies are geared in that direction rather than developing further infrastructure in Male'. However, the government has recently announced that 1,300 housing units will be built in Male', and has identified the location/sites for these developments. This will again lead to further inflow, and deteriorating the 'livability' in the island. We can easily divert these funds to Hulhumale' or any other atoll, so that social conditions in Male' will improve.


  1. Its difficult to walk, ride cycle, or drive a car in Male'. Yet, nothing has been done to address this issue.

  2. i do not understand the need to build more housing units in male' ...
    i think this would create more problems that it might solve ...
    especially when there are lotsa families that want to and are waiting to move to malé for reasons you mentioned earlier ...
    any kinda vaccum created in housing in malé will be immediately filled up ...
    i agree that resources should be diverted to hulhumalé ...
    i also think that more thought should be given to strengthen the infrastructure of hulhumalé then to just build housing units there ...
    I think that if proper infrastructure is laid out in hulhumlalé including an efficient transportation system ... the island would attract more private developers to build housing and stuff ... and development would increase exponentially ...
    my $0.02 ...
    what say you ???

  3. We can introduce a vehicle tax for vehicles like cars and cycles, so that government can raise revenue, and provide some relief for the growing number of vehicles.