Grounded bridge platform removed after 12 days

The bridge platform which was brought in for geo-technical studies of the Thila-Male' Bridge was removed today from the Vilimalé reef 12 after it was grounded | Photo: Fayaz Moosa

Malé, Maldives – AFCONS Infrastructure has removed the grounded self elevating bridge platform from Vilimalé reef today.

The bridge platform which was brought in for geo-technical studies of the Thila-Male’ Bridge was removed today from the reef 12 days after it was grounded. The accident occurred after the structure’s hosting anchor chain broke off due to bad weather.

Project contractor AFCONS Infrastructure had initially promised to remove the platform last Wednesday but due to bad weather the plan was pushed back.

Director General of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ibrahim Naeem told local media that the platform was removed around 10:00 this Saturday and that metal pieces and other objects which had fallen from the platform were being taken now.

He also told that a survey to check the extent of the damage caused to the Vilimalé reef will be carried out as soon as AFCONS Infrastructure completes the removal of debris on the reef.

The bridge construction project was awarded to AFCONS India, to be completed by in three phases. 

Phase I of the project linking Malé and Vilimalé will be complete by July 2023 and open to the public by 15 August 2023. Phase II will connect Vilimalé and Gulhifalhu and be complete by the end of 2023. Phase III linking Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi is expected to reach completion by November 2024.

AFCONS states that the barge grounding will not affect the scheduled completion dates of the project. 

Another AFCONS bridge construction project, the Addu City Hankede Bridge Project, suffered major damages due to monsoon sea swells earlier in July. 

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 project is being financed through a USD 400 million loan from EXIM Bank of India and with an additional USD 100 million grant from the Indian government. The agreement between EXIM Bank of India and the Maldivian government was signed on October 12, 2020. EXIM Bank informed that this loan would include a 5-year moratorium and a 20-year repayment period for the Maldivian government.

The new bridge includes three navigation bridges of 140 meter main span across the deep channel between each island, 1.41 km of marine viaduct in deep water, 2.32 km marine viaduct in shallow water or on land, and 2.96 km of at-grade roads. Bus terminals are also planned on each island near the junctions with the mainline and the project will use solar power for road lighting, navigation lighting, deck cell lighting, CCTV and lighting on sign gantry and architectural lighting.