GMR and Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) have held a joint two-day workshop with senior staff at Male’ International Airport to collect ideas on how to improving the facilities and upgrade the airport, prior to the construction of the new terminal.
The Indian infrastructure giant won the management contract to upgrade the airport build the new terminal by 2014, following a bidding process that was criticised for its fast speed and alleged lack of transparency. Opposition parties also opposed the privatisation of the airport on nationalistic grounds.
Chairmen of MACL ‘Bandhu’ Ibrahim Saleem said that the workshop was very useful and that the two parties had managed to collect constructive opinions from customers and staff on how to improve the services and facilities provided by the airport.
‘’It is a necessary task to upgrade the international airport,” Saleem said. “We are very confident with GMR, we have witnessed three airports developed by them under public private partnerships.’’
GMR Manager P Sripathi said that the paperwork was almost concluded and that the company needed only final approval for some documents.
‘’We know there will be a lot of complaints from different areas of the airport, but one by one we will sort out all the issues eventually,’’ said Sripathi. ‘’We are just in the final stages of forming the airports company.’’
When journalists present at the meeting queried about the different issues being encountered, senior officials on the panel recommended focusing questions “only on the subject of the workshop.”
The GMR-Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) consortium won the controversial bid to develop Male’ International Airport and will spend US$373 million on the upgrade.
Speaking at the opening of the cavernous Delhi Terminal 3 recently, GMR Manager P Sripathi told Maldivian journalists that physical work would begin on the airport towards the end of this year.
“The first phase is organising the finances and transitioning the airport from a government-run enterprise to a privately-run enterprise,” he explained.
“The transition will be a new thing [for the Maldives] and we will be there to help with that. We have done such things in other places, and we know how to go about it,” he said.
Male International Airport will remain as a property of the Maldivian people under the leasing agreement with GMR, said the former minister of civil aviation and communications Mahmood Razee recently in a local news paper Miadhu report.
Opposition political parties has repeatedly expressed concern and called on the government not to lease the Male’ Inernational Airport to a foreign company, claiming it could disrupt the national securit and harm the peace and harmony of the country. However, the government dismissed the claims, alleging vested interests on behalf of certain opposition leaders.