Bridge cannot be built by Indians: Yameen

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC) coalition leader, former President Abdulla Yameen. | Photo: PPM

Addu City, Maldives – Opposition leader, former President Abdullah Yameen Abdul Gayoom, has said that India is far behind in civil engineering and bridge construction is not possible for India.

Speaking at the meeting with PPM members in Feydhoo this afternoon, Yameen said that the current government has awarded the contract to an Indian company, AFCONS Infrastructures to build the Thila-Malé bridge, but the work of the bridge is not going ahead because India has no experience in doing such work.

“Even if you go to the point of cementing the bridge, you will see Indians carrying cement in buckets. This also shows that they don’t know how to do this kind of work,” he said.

President Yameen’s administration built the Sina-Malé Bridge with Chinese assistance. Referring to that, President Yameen said China is a leading country in the field of civil engineering.

Yameen added that when the Sina-Malé Bridge was built in collaboration with China, the then opposition raised its voice saying it was a debt, but that the real debt is shown by looking at today’s government expenditure.

President Yameen has repeatedly said that the decision of the current government to hand over the Thila-Malé bridge to India is not a good decision.

The project manager of the Thilamala Bridge project, Mohammed Jinan, had earlier said that an underwater pillar of the Thilamala Bridge would be visible before the end of October. However, these are yet to be seen.

The Malé-Thilafushi bridge, which has also been dubbed ThilaMalé Bridge will connect Malé, Villingili, Gulheefalhu and Thilafushi, essentially becoming the largest area connected by land in the Maldives.

The project is contracted to Indian company AFCONS and was officially inaugurated by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on August 2.

The 6.7 kilometer bridge includes three bridges with two roads and interchange points as well as parking areas. AFCONS stated that the Malé-Villimalé section of the bridge will be completed by mid 2023, while the Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi sections will conclude towards the end of 2023.

USD 500 million (MVR 7.7 billion) will be spent on this bridge, which is funded by a USD 400 million line of credit extended by India-owned Exim Bank, and another USD 100 million as free aid from India.

India has engaged in 7 major infrastructure projects in the country under $ 800 million Line of Credit–and these include Water and Sewerage network for 34 islands, Addu Roads and Reclamation project, Gulhifalhu Port, (expansion of facilities of Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company, Cricket Stadium in Hulhumale, Hanimaadhoo International Airport expansion and Cancer Hospital in Hulhumale.