A surveys for the Malé-Hulhulé bridge project will begin on Friday, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb has revealed.
After signing an MoU regarding promotion of the ‘mega project’ during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinpeng last month, a team from China will arrive on Thursday to carry out the survey.
“After that, we will obtain the required finance for project and start practical work on the bridge,” said Adeeb, also Chair of the cabinet’s Economic Council.
“I see the survey starting within one month from signing of Memorandum of Understanding with Chinese government as a huge victory,” he told Haveeru.
The survey will determine the pier points for the proposed bridge which will link the capital island Malé with the airport island of Hulhulé.
The project has been mooted by successive governments, with previous plans considering a bridge connecting the airport island with the Rahlugandhu area on the south-eastern corner of Malé, the artificial beach area, or the northen harbour via Funadhoo island.
Local media have confirmed that Chinese aid will cover the expense of the survey – reported to cost $3-4 million.
The government has insisted that the project can be completed within two years, with the Ministry of Economic Development suggesting it will help to ease urban congestion in the capital island – one of the most densely populated in the world.
President Abdulla Yameen confirmed that China had pledged to support the bridge project during his official state visit in August, promising a feasibility study before the end of the year.
During the historic visit of President Jinpeng last month – the first by a Chinese head of state to the Maldives, the leader suggested the finished project might be named the ‘China-Maldives Friendship Bridge’.
Diplomatic ties between the two nations have grown in the wake of the large numbers of Chinese tourists visiting the Maldives – now thirty percent of total arrivals.
While visiting the Maldives, President Xi reiterated his calls for the Maldives to become involved in the creation of a 21st century maritime silk road linking China to the east coast of Africa and the Mediterranean.
Chinese news agency Xinhua reported yesterday that China’s maritime ‘Silk Route’ would pass through the Ihavandhippolhu Integrated Development Project – or ‘iHavan’ – in the northernmost atoll in the Maldives.
An preliminary contract agreement on the development of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport – based on Hulhulé island – was also signed between the two nations during September’s visit.