President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Tuesday revealed that the Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP) or Male-Thilafushi Link (MTL) Project, which will connect Male to Vilimale, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi, will be awarded within the next two weeks, hence work was expected to begin before month (June) end.
Answering a question during the press conference held on Tuesday evening, the President stated that the bidding and evaluation process by the Ministry of Finance and Tender Board for the bridge was almost completed.
As the project is financially backed by Indian aid, unlike usual procedure, the Ministry of Finance had opened bidding only for Indian companies pre-qualified by India’s Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM).
‘The Times of Addu” received information previously that four major Indian infrastructure companies, with experience in similar projects, technical expertise and ability, as well as financial strength have been prequalified by EXIM bank, and will be participating in this tender issued by the Ministry of Finance, Government of Maldives.
President Solih stated that they have faced a lot of delays, particularly due to the extreme COVID-19 situation in India during the past months. Hence many meetings with EXIM bank had to be put on hold as well.
This project includes a 6.7 kilometer 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.
Additionally, the new bridge will include three navigation bridges of 140-meter main span across the deep channel between each island, 1.41 kilometer of a marine viaduct in deep water, 2.32 kilometer marine viaduct in shallow water or on land, and 2.96 kilometers of at-grade roads.
Building bus terminals on each island near the junctions with the mainline is also a part of the project. The terminals will utilise solar power for road lighting, navigation lighting, deck cell lighting, CCTV and lighting on sign gantry and architectural lighting.
The project financed through a USD 400 million loan from EXIM Bank of India and an additional USD 100 million grant from the Indian government was signed on EXIM Bank of India and the Maldivian government on October 12, 2020.
As per EXIM Bank, the loan includes a five-year moratorium and a 20-year repayment period for the Maldivian government. However, the Indian Line of Credit stipulations mandates that 65 percent to 75 percent of the project components should be sourced from India. Though this is the case, EXIM Bank stated that this still leaves a fair share of opportunity for Maldivian businesses and services to be engaged in project implementation.