Vilimalé, Maldives – Underwater debris left by self-elevating bridge platform which got grounded at Vilimalé reef area has been completely removed by AFCONS Infrastructure.
According to AFCONS, the contractor for Thila-Male’ Bridge they had finished the salvation of debris left behind by the platform when it was removed on this Sunday afternoon. The operation was completed despite extremely bad weather conditions.
The debris removal activity began on August 28, 2022 and was completed on Sept 4, 2022. The company also stated that they had deployed the best resources and machinery to remove the debris and now awaits a joint survey with EPA for the affected area.
The company and Environment Protection Agency (EPA) both faced heavy criticism for the delay in removing the self-elevating bridge platform and the debris from the Vilimalé reef and surveying of the damage to the reef.
The bridge platform which was brought in for geo-technical studies of the Thila-Male’ Bridge was removed on August 27, 2022 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.
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.