The Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure began issuing forms for those who wish to get wedded on the China Maldives Friendship Bridge, officially named Sinamale’ bridge, on Sunday morning, with the announcement that the government will be funding said weddings including the wedding attire along with beauty preparations for the bride and groom.
But wait, the absurdity and outrageousness of the initiate dawned on the much desperate administration, not a minute too soon. Since announcing that the government will fund the ‘bridge weddings’, the government had slashed several costs from the package mere hours later, washing our dreams down the drains.
While over 250 application forms had been issued by Sunday afternoon, according to the ministry’s spokesperson, Ahmed Fazaal, the ministry was obliged to cut back costs from the package due to the much anticipated “overwhelming response”. Fazaal had also said that the reason the government had decided to cover the expenses for the bridge weddings was because they had planned to give the opportunity to handful of people.
The government will now fund for wedding preparations, catering and photography, with a limitation of 50 guests per ceremony. The ministry also declared five themes for the weddings which are to be held from the 01st till the 05th of September, Maldivian, Chinese, Floral, Sunset and Vintage.
While the government has proudly been promoting the bridge as the best venue for wedding ceremonies since the beginning of the development project, we couldn’t imagine a better ambiance. True to form, it would certainly be a dear-diary moment to stand atop a freshly bedazzled bridge with your significant other, the breeze blowing the fabric of the bride’s delicate veil across the groom’s face, guests having their government-payed-for-catering while a professional photographer, also picked by the government, snaps away moments to cherish forever.
It surely is picture perfect, but then, brushing aside the canvas and brushes gifted by the government, we see the picture splattered with the colors of reality. The bride steps out of her bejeweled wedding shoes into the worn-out sandals she has been wearing back and from a job that pays her much for the work she does. The groom takes his new bride to his home, a four-foot square crammed with inoperable furnishings and a family he is responsible for. While the couple got their dream wedding, it could not turn the tables around for their future.
After the dreamy wedding, we all have to descend down to earth, where we are surrounded by responsibilities that wouldn’t bother us as much if we didn’t have rents to pay by chopping off a limb and selling an internal organ. Whereas the capital city’s living standards are beyond reach, an average citizen’s minimum wage does not even get him a package of peanuts for morning breakfast.
While standing leader, President Abdulla Yameen knows exactly what the citizens want, has his actions in the previous term been worthy enough to fool us into electing him for a second term?
The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives had included in their manifesto to begin oil exploration in the country, to handout MVR 10,000 to fishermen during lean months as well as MVR 8,000 to farmers, providing a doctor for every citizen as well as unlimited healthcare under the government’s Aasandha insurance scheme as well as to eliminate the black market for U.S dollars. The ruling party also pledged to allow women to work from home, adding that they will be given investment money to encourage female entrepreneurship.
Promising higher education to every student who passes their tenth grade O’Level examinations with three passes, President Yameen’s tenure also began with a promise to provide 2000 youths with opportunities for higher education. While citizens had cast their votes for President Yameen in the 2013 Presidential Election, they had done so with the hope that said pledges will be carried out, including the one to increase elderly pension from MVR 2,300 to MVR 5,000, to reduce fuel and food prices as well as to maintain the value of Maldivian Rufiyaa.
Other noteworthy pledges by the incumbent administration include creating a youth city in capital city Male’ suburban extension Hulhumale’, to bring 11 resorts into operation each year, to increase annual tourist arrivals to five million and give adequate shares to resort workers, one of the most notable ones is the pledge to provide 94,000 jobs to Maldivian citizens during his five-year tenure.
Whereas President Yameen claimed that 70,000 jobs were already created by 2015, the Civil Service Commission statistics reveal that only 200 jobs had been created in the commission, with just about 1,000 new jobs created within the first and a half year since President Yameen assumed office on the 17th of November 2013. Statistics of the World Bank Figures from the year of election also show an increase of unemployed Maldivian citizens aged between 15 to 24. By 2017, there was nearly a quarter of Maldivian youth that were not employed.
As a conclusion, we, as average citizens who love dreamy bridge weddings a little less than we would like a promising future for our new chapters and the children that will follow, request our humble leader to grab a blank canvas and this time, to step into the shoes of one of us before beginning his first brush stroke.