Housing Ministry confuses how Hiyaa Project tenants exceeded 7,000

Deputy Housing Minister Ali Shamin. (File Photo/Sun/Ahmed Aushan Ilyas)

Former Housing Minister Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, on Monday, responded to remarks by Deputy Housing Minister Ali Shamin regarding how former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s administration issued letters to 11,000 people for 7,000 housing units built under the Hiyaa Housing Project.

 Shamin, in a tweet on Monday night, said that while the Hiyaa Housing Project was announced as a 7,000 housing unit project, the project, in reality had 6,860 units, and that letters for the units were issued to 11,000 people just before the current administration assumed power, after the 2018 presidential elections unseated the Yameen’s administration.

Then-Housing Minister Muizzu responded to Shamin’s remarks in an interview to Sun on Monday night.

Muizzu said that the Hiyaa Housing Project wasn’t composed of just the 7,000 housing units, but that all housing units in Hulhumale’ Phase II were part of the project.

“Take a look at the issues of the Government Gazette in the months of October and November. I don’t know if it’s still there. But we officially published a number of announcements on the Government Gazette. Those were all pertaining to the Hiyaa Project,” he said.

He said that Yameen’s administration had announced 2,500 two-bedroom housing units and 1,000 one-bedroom housing units in addition to the 7,000 housing units.

“In addition to the 7,000 housing units, we issued letters for an additional 1,000 housing units under the newly married category. We even published it on the Gazette. Those are one-bedroom units. So doesn’t that exceed 7,000? Work on the units had already been initiated when President Yameen’s administration was unseated,” said Muizzu.

Housing units built under the Hiyaa Housing Project. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

While Yameen’s administration had initiated the construction of the 7,000 two-bedroom housing units, it had also announced plans for an additional 2,500 housing units, had opened application for the units, and had announced the list of tenants for the units.

Muizzu said the list of tenants for the additional housing units was announced as “List 2”. He said that funding for the additional housing units had already been arranged, but construction had yet to be initiated when the current administration had taken over.

He said the reserve list was composed of the 2,500 applicants who had scored the highest points after the tenants awarded the 7,000 housing units.

“So the housing units beyond the 7,000 are for the one-bedroom units list and the reserve list. I don’t know if they [the current administration] halted work on the one-bedroom units after they came to power. That’s something they have to bear responsibility for. And I don’t know if they cancelled the aforementioned 2,500 housing units either,” said Muizzu.

Muizzu alleges that the project for the 1,700 housing units the current administration laid the foundation for in Hulhumale’ Phase II was the 2,500 housing units announced by the former administration. And that the current administration had merely converted the two-bedroom units to three-bedroom units.

Former Housing Minister Dr. Mohamed Muizzu. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

“If that’s the case, they are violating the rights of the 2,500 people we announced. There is no point in lying or misleading now. The people know. The officials serving the people need to be far more responsible than this,” he said.

While the former administration had selected tenants for the Hiyaa Project and awarded them with letters of tenancy, the current administration alleged the housing units were awarded unfairly.

Yameen’s successor, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih convened a committee of five members to investigate issues related to previous government housing projects including the Hiyaa Project, Gedhoruveri Kurun Project and Gulhifalhu Housing Project in one of his first acts of office.

While the committee began its work and dispatched survey teams to assess the living situation of the people on the list of tenants for the Hiyaa Project, the work had been halted due to the coronavirus outbreak. Housing Ministry states the work cannot resume until the lockdown on the capital is lifted.

Housing Minister Aminath Athifa Shakoor, in a virtual sitting of the Parliament’s National Development and Heritage Committee last week, said that the Hiyaa housing units will be awarded to tenants in July. The Housing Ministry issued a statement one day later which said the comment had been a mistake.

In March 2019, Athifa announced the current administration had decided on making changes to the Hiyaa housing units.

She said that the housing units built under the former administration’s social housing project were too small, and that the Housing Ministry was engaged in discussions with the contractor regarding expanding the units.

Groundbreaking ceremony held for 1,700 housing units in Hulhumale' Phase II on March 11, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

She said that the government had decided on converting two-bedroom units to three-bedroom units without making any structural changes to the units.

She also said that the government would build additional housing units if necessary, in order to guarantee housing to all Hiyaa Project applicants who qualify.

The current administration laid the foundation for 1,700 housing units in Hulhumale’ Phase II on March 10 this year.

The project was contracted to China’s Sinohydro Corporation. The 1,700 housing units have both two-bedroom units and three-bedroom units, and are being built in 11 15-story and 16-story towers.

The current administration has also announced plans for an additional 3,000 housing units for residents of Male’ City.