Thinadhoo must be given city status: Committee members

The members of the Parliament Committee on Decentralization have said GDh. Thinadhoo must be designated as a city. They said Thinadhoo must be given city status in a committee meeting held Monday regarding the letter sent to the Local Government Authority (LGA) by Thinadhoo Council, requesting to upgrade the island's status.

According to the Decentralization Act, the standards or prerequisites to declare a city under the Act include that the island's registered population must not be less than 10,000. However, the required number is not officially registered to Thinadhoo.

During the meeting, LGA's CEO Afshan Latheef said the island council in its letter said the requirements to be declared as a city under the amendments to the Decentralization Act are met by Thinadhoo.

Afshan said the letter stated that although over 12,000 people live in Thinadhoo, the registered population is less than 10,000. While the Decentralization Act considers the registered population for its requirement, the registered population fell as a large number of people de-registered from the island's registry to apply for housing schemes in Male' City, the council said in its letter.

Speaking at the committee, Thinadhoo North MP Abdul Mughunee said even though some may assert that the minimum registered population requirement is not met, a census has not been carried out in any islands over the recent years. While the exact population cannot be confirmed, the residential population is above 12,000, he said.

Thinadhoo South MP Abdulla Saneef seconded MP Mughunee's statement. He stressed that Thinadhoo must be given city status as it meets the requirements to be designated a city.

'While a large number of people frequently travel to Thinadhoo for various needs, the island being designated a city would bring development to the whole atoll,' said Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam in support of giving city status to Thinadhoo.

The Chair of the committee, Ali Niyaz, said he supported giving city status to any island that meets the requirements stipulated in the law and that he was not against giving Thinadhoo city status. However, while the law stipulates specific conditions, he said that proper research must be done before amendments are brought to the law.

Niyaz questioned what would happen to the voting rights if the framework and operation of the office designated to provide municipal services to the registered population required changes and said the issue must be broadly discussed.

The Maldives has four cities; Male' City, Addu City, Fuvahmulah City, and Kulhudhuffushi City.

The Decentralization Act states that the President can declare an island as a city under certain conditions. When the Decentralization Act first came into effect, an island had to have a registered population of over 25,000 to be declared a city. However, during former President Mohamed Nasheed's administration, the population prerequisite was amended to 10,000, and Fuvahmulah was declared a city. Most recently, on January 1, 2020, Kulhudhuffushi was declared a city.