No plans to take tolls on bridge: Minister Nahula

Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Aishath Nahula seen at the ceremony held to welcome the first tourists who arrived after the borders opened on July 15, 2020 | Photo: Fayaz Moosa

Male’, Maldives – Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Aishath Nahula has told that the government had no intention of collecting toll from the Sinamale’ bridge which connects Male’-Hulhule’-Hulhumale’.

Minister Nahula said that the government decided not to collect tolls as mean to allow people to travel on the bridge without any difficulties. She also told that she believed that traveling was a basic service which should not be charged for.

The previous administration had planned to collect a toll charge as the maintenance cost of the bridge would be high but they did not start with the collection as the bridge was opened during the presidential election period.

The system proposed by the former administration was an automatic toll system so that vehicles did not have to stop on the bridge. At the time MVR 56 million was budgeted for this system.

In addition to this, the company which constructed the bridge, CCCC had agreed to carry out the maintenance of the bridge for free for two years from the day of opening. However, local media have reported today that according to the Finance Ministry that the company had extended this agreement for an additional five years and that is the reason why the maintenance had not been budgeted in the 2021 national budget. According to the reports this was to be done through the Chinese grant assistance extended to Maldives.

The bridge was developed through a loan of USD 116 million from the Chinese government and with an additional USD 72 million as a grant. Additional USD 12 million was spent by the Maldivian government for the project. The project took 30 weeks to completed and was opened on September 7, 2018 by the Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.