The government will announce invitation to tender for the Malé–Hulhulé bridge project in early June, President Abdulla Yameen revealed last night.
Speaking in the Feydhoo ward of Addu City, President Yameen said the company chosen in the bidding process would commence a technical survey upon being awarded the project.
“God willing, before the end of the first two weeks of June, we will tender the bridge project. With that, additional studies needed for the project – that is the direction and extent of ocean currents – will be undertaken by the party awarded the tender,” he explained.
He added that the construction of a bridge connecting the capital and the airport as well as the reclaimed artificial island of Hulhumalé was “a dream” of the current administration.
Yameen also appealed for support and cooperation from the public to successfully implement the government’s infrastructure development projects.
He reiterated calls for the public to ensure cooperation of the People’s Majlis for the executive through their elected representatives.
Yameen said he did not doubt that the development of a “Youth City” in Hulhumalé would solve the problem of high unemployment among youth.
In February, Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed pledged that the Malé – Hulhulé bridge project – which he described as “iconic for the whole region” – would be completed in two years.
Of 19 parties that had expressed interest in the project, Saeed noted that seven were international companies.
First announced as a campaign pledge of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 2008, a bridge connecting the congested island of Malé with its relatively spacious suburb was also an aim of Gayoom’s successor Mohamed Nasheed.
In December 2011, the President’s Office revealed that preliminary surveys conducted by international experts had established the viability of the project with an estimated cost of between US$70 million and US$100 million.
Upon assuming office in November 2013, the present administration called for expressions of interest for the project under a public-private partnership contract that would require the selected company to engage in the design, build, financing, maintenance and operation of the bridge.
“Primary objective of the government is to bring a relief to the socio-economic issues arising from the urban congestion that is present in Malé,” the Ministry of Economic Development explained at the time.
Former Minister of Economic Development Mahmoud Razee – a member of Nasheed’s cabinet – meanwhile told Minivan News in February that a bridge would improve local commerce and reduce traffic congestion in Malé.
“There will be a mediation of the traffic because what happens in Malé – in the afternoons and evenings – a lot of the traffic is leisure traffic as motorcycles are out on the road, not to go to any particular place but for the sake of having a ride. If these are connected, the area they are able to mill around is increased by several kilometers,” he explained.
Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony in Hulhumalé last month, President Yameen said that the vision of his administration was to develop the artificial island as a “youth village” with a population of 50,000 people.
Hulhumalé will become “a paradise on earth” for migrants from across the country, he said, whilst economic opportunities would be created by the construction of a bridge connecting the island to the nearby capital city.