By Tang Lu
Male, November 27 (Xinhua): The once drab island of Huluhumale, near the Maldivian capital city of Male, is now a riot of color. Adding to the beauty of the deep blue sea, a high-rise residential complex painted in red, yellow, blue, green, and purple has come up dominating the skyline.
Known locally as Hiyaa Flats, the complex has 16 buildings with a total of 7,000 housing units built by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) South Asia.
Hiyaa Flats is not only the largest social housing project to date in the history of the Maldives, but also a real boon for ordinary families in the Maldives. Although the Maldives has a population of just over half a million, housing shortages and high rents have plagued the people of Male, the world’s most densely populated capital.
“I finally have a place of my own,” said Mohamed Saeed, a 46-year-old customs officer.
Sitting in his neat and well-furnished living room in one of the apartments, Saeed told Xinhua: “In Male, I was living in a small one-room flat with my wife and a kid. The Kitchen is only enough for one person.”
“For 36 years I was living in rented houses. And every one or two years, I had to shift. This proved to be very costly. I wondered when I would have my own house. But now I have an apartment with a very big living room, a very big kitchen, and two toilets,” he said.
“My living environment has greatly improved. The monthly rent has also come down by nearly 40 percent and the commuting time to my place of work has been shortened to 10 minutes. This is heaven for me!” he added.
Male and the newly developed island of Huluhumale were connected in 2018 by a bridge constructed by a Chinese company, which has greatly soothed the housing pressure in Male and facilitated many residents’ commute.
The good news for the residents in Hiyaa Flats is that they have a chance to be owners of their flat eventually — “If I pay my monthly rent, I can stay here forever!” Saeed said triumphantly.
In August, Saeed received the keys to his apartment and promptly moved in all his belongings. “I feel very lucky to move here,” he said with a grin.
Suha Sameed and her family are also among the new residents of Hiyaa Flats.
“In our house in Male, water would go off frequently. Sometimes there would be a leak. But this new apartment is beautiful and in very good condition. There are two bedrooms and the facilities are good,” said Sameed.
“And our monthly rent has come down from 11,000 to 8000 Maldivian Rufiyaa (about 710 to 519 U.S. dollars). I like the new community very much. I’m glad that our family can live in such an environment,” added the 16-year-old girl.
Presently, most apartments in the 25-storeyed Hiyaa Flats have been occupied. The project is expected to improve the living environment for nearly 30,000 people in the capital Male.
Local experts pointed out that with the gradual improvement of supporting facilities, the Hiyaa Flats residential complex would become the first large-scale residential area in the history of the Maldives, and would advance the vigorous commercial development of the surrounding areas.
Wang Zhouya, general manager of CSCEC South Asia, who was once in charge of the Hiyaa Flats project, said that the company personnel are very happy to see Maldivians move happily into their new homes.
“In the future, we will help the Maldives with more high-quality projects and jointly build pleasant spaces for the people of Maldives,” Wang said.