Pre-feasibility study MoU signed with Chinese government

The Maldives has signed an MoU with the Chinese government regarding a pre-feasibility study of the proposed Malé-Hulhulé bridge.

The agreement was signed by Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr Mohamed Muizz and Yung Wan Xion, principal of the Chinese Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs.  ­

Dr Muizz thanked the Chinese government for the generous support and said that the Maldives was giving utmost priority to the project in order to complete it.

In October, a Chinese team of engineers reportedly conducted a survey on the feasibility of the bridge while also researching the best pier points for the bridge, while Chinese government officials announced they would “favorably consider” financing the project.

Speaking to Haveeru at the time, tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb said the survey was to be finished in a period of four months, with costs being covered by  US$4 million in aid from the Chinese government.

Opposition Maldives Democratic Party of Maldives (MDP) has, however, criticised the government’s inclusion of high amounts of funds allotted for the bridge feasibility study in the upcoming three years.


Police find more beer cans near Villimale’

Residents of Villimale have alerted police after 52 cans of beer were found washed up on the island, following an operation to recover some 19,200 cans that fell into the sea from a dhoni travelling to Hulhule’ from Male’’s commercial port.

The police were called early on Friday morning by a group of people on Villimale’ after they found the cans near the boat yard on the island.

The Maldives Customs Department recently issued a statement claiming the beer cans found floating near Male’ were being transferred to a bonded warehouse in Hulhule’ from Male’, but said the dhoni carrying the beer cans lost balance and 800 cases fell into the sea.

Customs said the beer cans were a shipment imported to the Maldives for resort business and had cleared the customs examination procedure.

According to the statement, the customs officer who loaded the beer cases onto the dhoni counted the amount of cans that were loaded onto the boat, figured out the amount missing and informed the police immediately.

On Thursday Marine Police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers conducted an operation to collect thousands of the cans found floating in the sea on the west side of Male’.

Possession and consumption of alcohol is illegal outside resort islands and licensed safari boats in the Maldives.


Government seeking $150 million loan for Male’ – Hulhule’ bridge

Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad has said the government is seeking a $150 million loan for the construction of a bridge between the islands of Male’ and Hulhule’, local media has reported.

Jihad was reported as saying that he will be travelling to Turkey, along with Housing Minister Dr Ahmed Muizzu and senior Finance Ministry officials to continue discussions with Turkey’s Exim bank to obtain the loan.

“We are presently in discussion with Turkey’s Exim bank to obtain a $150 million loan for this project. The decision has been made to travel to Turkey for this purpose, but the loan is not yet confirmed,” Jihad was quoted as saying in Sun Online.

“This is a very important project. We have detailed plans, which we will present to them.”

According to local media, the decision to build the bridge was made in December 2011 in order to find a solution to the problem of congestion in Male’.


GMR and MACL hold workshop on upgrading airport

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.


Ferry and speedboat collide near Funadhoo

A speedboat travelling to Hulhulé from Rannaalhi Resort collided with a Hulumalé ferry yesterday around noon.

ADK Hospital reported nine injuries, including three children. Five passengers were injured seriously, Miadhu reports.

An eye witness saw the speedboat being kept afloat near Funadhoo by emergency inflation devices.

The ferry was taken back to Malé ferry terminal. “There was a shattered window and the railing was broken,” said the witness.

Water regulations prohibit speedboats travelling at full speed near Malé. It is likely that these precautions were not taken into account. The regulations make it highly improbable for a serious accident like this to occur.