Government to proceed with second phase of Hulhumale’ reclamation, despite budget crisis

The Maldives government has signed an agreement to move ahead with the second phase of reclamation work on the island of Hulhumale’, despite claiming last week that the project could face continued delays due to limited financing.

The development of Hulhumale’ near Male as a residential area was originally intended to reduce congestion in Male – one of the most crowded cities in the world, with an estimated 55,000-60,000 people per square kilometre.

The state’s renewed commitment to the Hulhumale’ reclamation work came as the government last week revealed it was in discussion with Saudi Arabia over security a US$300 million credit facility.

Despite the state’s financial concerns, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad said the agreement would see work commence on a second phase of land reclamation in Hulhumale’ “as soon as possible”.

On Tuesday (July 16), President Waheed told local media the reclamation work that had already been delayed in order to “clear the financial aspects of the project” would soon commence without much further delay.

“By the will of God, the project can commence in the near future after everything gets finalised,” Waheed was quoted as saying by newspaper Haveeru.

Local media reported that the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) project to reclaim 230 hectares of land suitable for residential use was estimated to cost US$60 million.

In January this year, six foreign parties reportedly expressed interest in the second phase of developing Hulhumale’, which is anticipated to be the largest project of its kind in the Maldives.


HDC opens bids to develop Hulhumale apartment complex

Bids to develop and sell an apartment complex in Hulhumale are now being accepted by Hulhumale Development Corporation (HDC).

Bids will be accepted until Thursday, reports Haveeru. Documents are available for purchase until 2:30 pm today, January 8.

The apartment complex will be developed in two separate plots of 2,4500 feet squared each.

HDC requires that a five-storey complex be built on each plot, with 27 rooms in each complex.

Development of Hulhumale is part of the government’s plan to reduce the level of congestion in the capital Male’, which currently houses one-third of the Maldives population of 350,000.


Parking garages to relieve Male’ congestion

Four parking buildings for motorcycles and cars are to be built on Male to relieve congestion, said Galolhu-South councillor Ibrahim Shujau. Work is said to begin soon.

The council allegedly discussed erecting one parking garage at the now-vacant parking lot Maafannu Laamige, west of Theemuge, reports Haveeru.

The locations of the other three buildings require the National Planning Council’s permission.

Shujau told local media that the council plans to charge a parking fee for both cars and motorcycles. He added that the parking garages would make streets more comfortable for pedestrians and drivers.


New bidding system will limit private vehicle congestion, says Transport Minister

The Ministry of Transport is drafting regulations that will limit applications for private vehicles via a bidding process, in an effort to halt further congestion of cities such as Male’.

“The idea is to control the rising number of vehicles on the streets of Male’,” said Transport Minister Adhil Saleem. “73 percent of people on the street are pedestrians, but the streets are small, especially with two rows of parked motorbikes, and pedestrians are being pinned against the wall.”

The new regulations, which will soon be published in the government’s gazette, will see a certain number of license numbers released to the public each year through public auction. The numbers will go to the applicants who score the most points, and not necessarily the highest bidder.

60 points will be allocated for vehicles with zero emissions, 50 points to the highest bidder, and 10 points for brand new fossil fuel vehicles. No points will be given for imported second hand vehicles, Adhil explained.

“We estimate that this will mean it will cost Rf100,000-200,000 (US$6485-12970) to put a brand new electric vehicle on the road, and Rf300,000-400,000 (US$19455-25940) to put a fossil fuel vehicle on the road,” he said.

The Ministry is also seeking to reform the taxis, Adhil said, which were currently operated like private vehicles rather than as a professional service.

“It’s encouraging the number of taxi drivers who have switched to driving the new buses. I think the scheme has been very successful. Already we can see little improvements in order on the main streets where the buses travel,” he said.

Co-founder of local environmental NGO Bluepeace, Ali Rilwan, said the bidding scheme sounded positive as long as it did not put vehicle ownership only within reach of the privileged.

Male’ already was way beyond its capacity for vehicles, he said. “More high rises are going up and there is just enough room for pedestrians.”

“When school kids come out on a road like Chandhanee Magu there is no space and the road closes,” Rilwan said.

It was a “good question” as to why so many cars and motorbikes were needed on a 2.2 square kilometre island, he noted.

“It’s a fashionable thing – it’s trendy for people to spend their free time riding around.”

People needed to be encouraged to use bicycles, he said, but said many were put off by the high rate of theft.

“Fifteen years ago bicycles had to be registered with a number plate. But when registration was relaxed in the late 1980s, the police were no longer able to identify bicycles and they were frequently stolen. People mark chickens and coconut trees on the islands, but not bicycles.”

It was not uncommon for a student to have to buy 7-10 bicycles during his school life, Rilwan said.