Friday, January 4, 2008

Holiday Inn Hits Problems Again

Construction of Malé's Holiday Inn ceased again yesterday amid conflict between developers, local government and residents over the building.

The project has repeatedly been halted and resumed as it raises questions over the quickfire pace of development in the capital.

Minivan News received mixed messages about the immediate future of the project, unveiled last February.

And government departments gave conflicting accounts of their commitment to review the legal loophole allowing construction work in Malé without a prior Environment Impact Assessment (EIA).

Stalled Again

The 15-storey Holiday Inn will be owned by Maldives-based Malé Hotel Associates Private Limited and managed by InterContinental.

When plans were unveiled the deputy Tourism Minister said it would show the Maldives to be a “destination offering world-class infrastructure and service.”

The hotel is the first building on Malé's coral island to be built using the “deep piling” method in which metal load-bearing piles are driven to depths of 30 to 40 metres.

Work was first postponed in October, when the Environment Ministry instructed Malé Municipality to carry out an EIA after neighbours complained of tremors and cracks in their house walls. Yesterday it was halted again just two weeks after re-starting.

The Environment Ministry cited problems with vibration monitoring devices, but developer Abdul Sattar Ali told Minivan News he felt the real reason was residents’ reluctance to accept the “deep piling” technology.

Though the technique creates “scary” vibrations, he says, it reduces the weight of the finished building, offering an environmentally friendly solution.

Sattar also complained the letter ordering construction to stop was available on a local newspaper’s website before it reached him. [Read More on Minivan News]


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