MMPRC Audit Report

Fish market turns to public bathrooms: concerned agencies silent

"The above photo does not show a public bathroom. It is a scene from the fish market," the above photo, a screenshot from a video, and outraged comments had surfaced on the Facebook timelines of almost all locals. In a short while the post had gone viral.

The video shows the workers in the fish market getting showers after the business hours were over. In the same place fish is gutted, cleaned and sold to the general public.

Some commenters had aimed their anger at the video. Others had expressed concern over how such a culture had thrived while Health Protection Agency (HPA) had been legally mandated with reviewing the cleanliness of such places on a weekly basis. HPA had not made a comment formally or informally.

"It is not sanitary to take showers in the place. Even if they clean the place, it is not acceptable as a general rule. We have to bring a solution to the issue," one of the commenters said.

"Do you get a shower in your kitchen? No. This is a serious issue," another one of the commenters said.

Some cafe' and restaurant workers sleep the establishment premises. Most of those who sleep there are the expatriate workers. Perhaps their employers had not made sleeping arrangements for them. Perhaps the workers at the fish market shower there because no facilities had been made available for them.

Whatever the reason, the act is unacceptable. And such acts pose significant questions regarding the health standards of the place, which is frequented by many citizens. If such arrangements are not made, then the relevant agencies must be held accountable when such issues occur.

The sensitivity of the fish market compared to the cafe's and restaurant, is completely different. Fish can easily decompose and get contaminated; the area needs to be under careful inspection. If not, a public health crisis can easily arise in the country that is highly dependent on fish. In many countries, specific agencies had been created to address the issue - in Maldives HPA is the relevant state agency.

The Public Health Protection Act's clause seven had mandated HPA to monitor, raise public awareness on public health issue and initiate action on cases where public health is at risk.

The video, uploaded at around 19:15 Saturday, is still being shared by many. The video was recorded by Adam Fathuhee from HDh. Vaikaradhoo.

Speaking to Avas, Fathuhee said the incident was a common one. He said he uploaded the video on Facebook as he believed that it was a concerning issue.

"I shared this with HPA. They said they were investigating the issue with relevant agencies. I do believe they will find a solution," Fathuhee said.

An official from HPA said that they were thankful that this issue was shared with the Agency. The official said the Ministry will be investigating the issue and the Agency will implement all necessary measures. HPA said they will seek to resolve such challenges.