Businesses hit as Maldives water crisis continues into fourth day

December 8, 2014 5:53 am 

COLOMBO, Dec. 8 — Popular restaurants in the Maldives capital of Male have shut down due to suspension of water supply after a fire four days ago resulting in difficulties to locals and tourists alike, residents said on Sunday.

Water services to the capital Male were shut off on Thursday after a crippling fire damaged crucial components of the island's sole desalination facility, the Male Water and Sewerages Company ( MWSC), leaving over 130,000 people without water for bathing, cleaning, and cooking.

Authorities have acknowledged that damage to the capital's desalination plant is extensive, and could take between three days and a week to get the plant fully repaired.

Most households and businesses rely solely on water provided by the city's desalination company, which has resulted in a major water crisis after the company's water supply was shut off.

The most basic drinks such as coffee are no longer available from restaurants, and the lack of water available to clean dirty dishes has led to a huge drop in hygiene standards, with Health Protection Agency (HPA) issuing advice against eating from restaurants and cafes.

"Customer complaints would increase if quality service isn't provided. This would lead to customers hesitating to even return here. So we decided to temporarily close until the water issue is resolved," Mohamed Azum who is the manager of popular restaurant City Garden told Xinhua.

Several other proprietors also expressed the same sentiments to Xinhua.

Fresh supplies of water continue to arrive from abroad, most notably from china and India, with distribution being carried out by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) with the assistance of local non-governmental organizations alongside numerous private businesses.

The Chinese government has pledged to assist the water-starved Maldives capital by working with the government to provide substantial amounts of drinking water at the earliest possible time, a statement from the embassy said on Saturday.

The Chinese government has arranged for all commercial flights out of china to Male to be loaded with drinking water. The first batch arrived on Saturday morning carrying 15 tons of bottled water.

"Two Chinese air force crafts have also taken off from China carrying 40 tons of bottled water and arrived on Saturday," it added.

In addition, a Chinese navy ship with water purification facilities is already making way to capital Male and will provide drinking water to residents once it docked, the embassy assured.

The government of India has also sent supplies, having delivered over 150 tons of water via military aircraft in the past 24 hours. A second Indian vessel, with reverse osmosis facilities capable of delivering 200 tons of water daily, is expected to arrive on Sunday with 800 tons of water.

Sri Lanka started sending water to the Maldives via Sri Lankan Airlines flights, while the United Nations in Maldives has said it will distribute 180 tonnes of rainwater stored under its premises in Male.

The Maldives government has set up water distribution centers at schools and other public spaces, with each person allowed two 1. 5-liter bottles, leading to the formation of large queues stretching around the capital. (PNA/Xinhua)

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