Bridge and port construction to start in mid-2021

Aerial view of Gulhi falhu which is located 6km away from the capital city of Male' | Photo: TBR

Male’, Maldives – Minister of Economic Development, Fayyaz Ismail has said that the physical works of the Male’-Thilafushi bridge and Gulhifalhu port would commence in mid-2021.

The Male’-Thilafushi bridge which is to be built under the Greater Male Connectivity Project which is being financed with a USD 400 million loan from EXIM Bank of India and an additional USD 100 million grant from the Indian government is the largest project announced by the current government.

Speaking on a programme by Public Service Media (PSM), Minister Fayyaz told that the bidding for the port project is ongoing and that it would be closed by November 12. In addition to this, the bridge project bidding process is also going on and would close by November 26 according to the minister.

Minister Fayyaz told that while both bidding processes were being carried out almost at the same time, that the ministry was planning to send the qualifying parties to EXIM bank within a month after closing the bidding process. He also said that they would fast track this process by sending the tenders to the EXIM bank as soon as possible and to finalize a contractor by the beginning of next year.

He also said that since the projects are design and build (D&B) projects, that if the contractor is finalized by January or February, by May or June, the contractor should be able to bring in their machinery and commence work.

The government has budgeted a total of MVR 444.9 million for the bridge project in the 2021 budget. This is the single highest amount allocated for a project in next years budget.

The Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP) includes a 6.7 km bridge and causeway network connecting Male, Villingili, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi and as per the current government this would be a national economic engine and lifeline connecting Hulhumale’, Hulhule’ and Male’ with the proposed Gulhifalhu Port and the Thilafushi Industrial Zone.

The government of former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom awarded a project to establish a commercial harbour in industrial island Thilafushi to a Dubai company, DP World for US$ 300 million. However, the company stopped work mid-project. President Yameen’s Economic Council’s co-chair, former Fisheries Minister Mohamed Shainee had at the time revealed that a Philippines company approached the government to continue the project.