While over a 1000 expatriate staff are active in the construction process, USD 200 million is being spent on its construction, out of which USD 116 million is free aid and USD 72 million is a loan from the government of China.
The government of Maldives is spending USD 12 million on this project, Housing Minister Dr. Mohamed Muizzu asserts that the bridge is a key pledge that “will be achieved as per President Yameen’s vision”.
How much of the road development has actually been completed?
The answer requires a short walk around the stretch of soiled road that has been closed off around the capital city for over two months now.
While the bridge development project began in 2015, it did not occur to the current administration of incumbent President Abdulla Yameen that a much more convenient way could be established to construct the outlying Boduthakurufaanu Magu instead of closing off such a big stretch of land at once. Since the announcement of the beginning of the construction of the China Maldives Friendship Bridge, the plan to link said road to the bridge was in existence and for this to happen, the construction of said roads must be completed by or along with the bridge.
The question arises, then why wait till the last minute to hastily finish the construction of the section of Boduthakurufaanu Magu to be linked to the bridge? Why didn’t the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure think this plan through? The government clearly had enough time on their hands, that the need was felt to organize things in such a haphazardly manner. Could the administration not have organized construction work for the outlying road the same convenient way they did Majeedhee Magu?
As a consequence of the administration’s sluggish processing, several bodies are facing hardships here and now.
Take small businesses in the region closed off for instance. Small, yet a significant part of the lives of Maldivians. Small café’s and restaurants in the area used to be jam-packed in the crisp hours of evening with laughing families and friends with catching up to do. Take a walk down the crest-fallen region during sundown now, all you see is a few random people filling up their petrol tanks, taking a dull walk or the actual construction workers engulfed in labor.
As a result of the Ministry not blocking the road zone-by-zone like they did for Majeedhee Magu, most citizens are facing problems in their daily schedules. Moreover, the Ministry decided to close off the entire stretch of Boduthakurufaanu Magu at a time when authorities introduced changes to timings allocated for the transport and delivery of cargo and goods, another problem that arose for the citizens.
While parking space has been marginally restricted in most of the capital city Male’, it has set off a chain reaction of traffic issues, especially in the Hulhumale’ ferry terminal area in Henveiru ward of Male’. Whereas a five-minute walk from a parking zone further than the usual favored spots for vehicle drivers is not perceived as much of an upheaval at all, it still does not explain the quite obvious delay in the construction work of a region that has been closed off for over two months now.
Authorities had initially closed off the stretch of the outlying road two months back, and since then, citizens have been expecting to see more progress with the authorities’ continuous assurance that growth is “progressing at a fast pace”.
On the 21st of July, vehicles were banned from entering or parking in the sites closed off for road development in both Male’ and its suburban extension, Hulhumale, with the Housing Ministry even having stated that the bridge is a “high priority for the ministry”.
What we see is the complete opposite, construction work is progressing at a turtle’s pace. On a more serious note, where was the appeal for vehicles not to park in the area whe construction set off? Did they believe they had all the time in the world to complete the construction of the road to be linked to the bridge? Did they make the announcement when it better suited their mood?
The Housing Ministry previously announced the commencement of the construction works under which, the south-eastern side of outlying Boduthakurufanu Magu will be expanded by 16 meters, fitting four lanes with two-meter pavements on either side.
Taking a more environmental friendly turn, over 300 trees have been cut down in the capital city, including decade-old ones near the Artificial Beach area which had also been torn down by the authorities which drew heavy criticism for the government’s hasty decisions to cut down the trees.
Albeit Minister Muizzu having defended the decision saying that fresh trees will be planted upon the conclusion of the project, the little trust people have for the government’s word does not make way for the possibility, since the authorities have so far been excellent at keeping their word.
Minister Muizzu had initially set the date of completion of the construction of the road linking to the Sinamalé bridge, by Independence Day. We probably misunderstood, and the government meant the 54th Independence Day - next year - because all we see when stepping foot onto the soil of a bumpy, jagged outlying road is a stretch of land nowhere near to being completed.
Authorities had later pushed the date back to September, announcing that the tarring of the roads to be linked to the bridge will begin in the proceeding week. The tarring will evidently begin from the Hulhumale’ ferry terminal area. According to the Ministry, the work will commence at a “swift speed”, the same speed that has brought the construction work announced two months ago, to near-end.