Maldives signs largest-ever infrastructure project with India’s AFCONS

Greater Male Connectivity Project will consist of a 6.74 km-long bridge and causeway link between Male and nearby islands of Villingli, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi.

The contract for the largest-ever infrastructure project in the Maldives was signed in Male on Thursday. The Greater Male Connectivity Project ( GMCP) will consist of a 6.74 km-long bridge and causeway link between Male and nearby islands of Villingli, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi. Indian construction giant AFCONS has been tasked with completing the project.

“Delighted that the contract for the Greater Male Connectivity – Male to Thilafushi Link Project has been signed between the Ministry of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure and AFCONS Infrastructure Ltd. This is a defining moment in the development journey of the Maldives,” said Abdulla Shahid, Foreign Minister of the Maldives. He described the project as an “enduring tribute to the strong Maldives-India partnership”.

The signing ceremony was attended by Mohamed Aslam, Minister for National Planning and Infrastructure; Faiyyaz Ismail, Minister for Economic Development; Ibrahim Ameer, Minister for Finance; and Minister for Transport Aishath Nahula. Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Sudhir and senior representatives from AFCONS represented the Indian side. AFCONS is known for its “extreme engineering” projects that also include the Chenab Railway Bridge.

The project is funded by a grant of $100 million and a Line of Credit of $400 million from India.

The GMCP project will overshadow the 1.4 km long Sinamale Bridge built with Chinese assistance that connects Male with Hulhumale and Hulhule and was completed in 2018. The GMCP project will add dynamism to the Maldivian transport and economic activities as it is aimed to connect four islands accounting for about half of the Maldivian population.

Jaishankar’s visit to Male

The project is the result of bilateral consultation between India and the Maldives and has been under discussion since the visit of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to Male in September 2019. A major feature of the project will be that it will connect Male with the planned international port of Gulhifalhu and the industrial zone at Thilafushi.

“GMCP comprises three navigation bridges of 140 m main span across the deep channel between each island, 1.41 km of marine viaduct in deep water and 2.32 km of marine viaduct in shallow water or on land and 2.96 km of at-grade roads,” informed an official press release. The project will use renewable energy. Once completed, it will utilise solar power for lighting purposes.

India and the Maldives have been working to improve connectivity between two sides as well as within the archipelago nation. Both sides planned a direct ferry service between Male, Kochi and Thoothukoodi, which commenced in September 2020. Both sides also operate a number of flights using an Air Travel Bubble that has helped in travel and tourism during the pandemic months.

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