Saturday, August 1, 2009

talks on Hithadhoo Youth Centre

Hithadhoo youth’s appetite for a youth centre in Hithadhoo was somewhat satiated when the construction of a youth centre began few years back. Since then years have passed, a government has changed and hopes of youth have vanished, all for a palpable reason – when the scheduled completion date arrived and went, work on youth centre was incomplete.

Shary, Naanu, Hallu and I got the opportunity this morning to converse with the Youth and Sports Minister, Hassan Latheef, regarding the challenges and obstacles encountered in developing sports and recreational facilities in Hithadhoo. We chose the abandoned youth centre as the venue to meet, particularly to enlighten the minister upon the true state of the building.

Upon arrival I noticed three laborers native to Bangladesh indolently working on the site. They were chiseling away on a horizontal concrete beam in order to heighten the space allocated on the wall for a doorway below. An adjustment that was preventable if not for the inadvertence of the contractors has resulted in some costly consequences: cracks have developed on the wall.

From the time I spent there and from the talks that’s were exchange I have derived some inferences.
First and foremost I realized that the contractor has been really economical with the truth. He was audacious enough to assure the minister that all the work would be complete by Ramadan. “From what I have been told I believed that all the work would be complete by Ramadan. But upon arriving here and seen the place myself I don’t see a way it’s possible” the minister said.

More than 80% of the work is yet to be done. All that was done is erecting walls and hoisting roofing atop it. Apparently the date of completion proviso stated that all work must be finished by June 15. The contractor’s failure to do so made the ministry extend the due date for July 3. Further failure to complete for the second time resulted in a third date which would be due by Ramadan.

Another observation I made is that lot of works needs to be redone again. The slapdash engineering used is simply difficult to comprehend. Septic tank and pipes leading to it need to be re-elevated in order to make the lavatory usable. If not fecal matter will flood back into the toilets because the main pipe leading to the septic tank would be submerged in water from inside during high tide. Does this mean that the lavatories of the youth centre are designed only to be used in low-tides?

I don’t mind someone pulling of something for simply for its name sake if it’s falls under someone’s charitable act. But when it’s fueled by people’s money and dreams then I expect not only the promised output but also the promised quality.

My third observation was a bit unorthodox. Sports ministry contracted with one main contractor for the working on youth centre. Usually a contractor cannot hire a sub contractor without the knowledge and the consent of the client- in this case the ministry. Not only the main contractor hired a sub contractor, even the sub contractor has hired another sub contractor. It was the workers of this sub-sub contractor that were present today. It was either a mere coincidence or a well orchestrated portrayal that the work on the site began one day prior to president’s recent visit to Addu.

I asked for a defined duration of time by which the building would be complete. He said he cannot give. I asked again. He said “when I weigh in on the work that needs to be yet carried out, it is really difficult to give a particular time.”

However he did promise to look into the current status and to bring about the necessary reforms and to ensure that the work on youth center continues till it’s complete. If you ask me what me what we achieved today I have the same old cliché as an answer, “Nothing much but all talks and promises”. Then again when I think about it that’s enough for the moment.

Upon Naanu’s request the minister said he will look into arranging an appropriate mean to maintain the football fields of Hithadhoo and also to provide the people with a space to play volleyball and tug of war by Ramadan in the land allocated for youth centre.

As we left I heard Naanu saying to Aishath Rasheedha from the Ministry who has visited the centre once before,” I hope that third time you we will work out of here after the opening ceremony of Youth Centre”.

I wholeheartedly hope for the same.