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Inguraidhoo wants airport in Fainu, President asserts pledge will be honoured

President assured his pledge to establish an airport in the southern province of Raa Atoll will be upheld. He remains vague on a dedicated location however, ensured to proceed in the people's best interest amid the difference of opinions on this matter.

Aishath Shuba Solih
04 March 2024, MVT 13:19
President Dr Mohamed Muizzu addressing the residential community of R. Inguraidhoo during his visit -- Photo: President's Office
Aishath Shuba Solih
04 March 2024, MVT 13:19

Amid the conflicted interests of islands in Raa Atoll surrounding the location of their southern province airport, President Dr Mohamed Muizzu has stated that the airport will be established in facilitation of the best interest and most desirable outcome for the people.

Addressing the residential community of Raa atoll Inguraidhoo during his visit there as part of his tour across the atoll, the President stated that he will commence projects after identifying the people’s perspectives on the matter and assured his tour across islands and conventions with councils is to uphold this aim.

He assured the requested airport project will also be proceeded in this same manner.

Affirming that he will maintain his vow on the establishment of an airport in the southern province of Raa Atoll, the President stated that the perspectives of the people will be observed and an airport will be established in conformity of the people’s wishes. He remarked that this will facilitate economical growth within the islands and derive employment and various other opportunities for the residential community.

Nevertheless, the president had refrained from directly indicating the location of this airport.

Amid the presidential campaign last year, President Dr Mohamed Muizzu had assured that he will make efforts to establish an airport in Raa Atoll Fainu in conformity of the perspective adopted by the former President Abdulla Yameen which also serves the perspectives of the residential community of Inguraidhoo preferring their neighboring island, Fainu as the ideal location.

President of the Inguraidhoo Council, Mohamed Jameel maintained that the people wishes to establish the airport in Fainu and expressed hopes of this expectation being realized. Subsequently, the parliamentarian of the Inguraidhoo Consitituency, Hassan Ahmed, had implored to the people to consider the most beneficial procedures for the residential communities encircling the construction of the airport in the southern province of Raa atoll in the island of Fainu.

He had highlighted that the airport must be developed to function on an international standard and asserted nothing less than this can be accepted. He maintained that while the atoll has a high number of tourist resorts, what is essential is an international airport and not a “coconut husk” in reference of a facility that is hollow and empty.

While Inguraidhoo maintains their preference to build the airport in Fainu, doubts have surfaced regarding Fainu’s accommodative capacities to facilitate the airport to an international standard. However, the island allocated for the airport in the southern province of the atoll during former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration, Beriyanfaru, offers land availability to facilitate such an airport through land reclamation.

President of R. Inguraidhoo Council, Mohamed Jameel receiving President Dr Mohamed Muizzu upon his arrival at the island -- Photo: President's Office

Multiple islands in Raa Atoll had implored upon the President to alter his decision of building an airport in Fainu and relocate it to the island of Beriyanfaru. The meeting held with the Meedhoo Council during the President’s visit to the island as part of his first official visit to Raa Atoll since his assumption of office had prompted a proposal to the President requesting to relocate the airport to Raa Atoll Beriyanfaru as well.

“The airport in the south of Raa Atoll will become the most busily operated airport in the entirety of the country. The reason is all these resorts located in the southern province of Raa Atoll. Fourteen to fifteen resorts. All the resorts in the northern region of Baa Atoll. In review of all these things, including the population of the residential community, the airports established in Beriyanfaru of the southern province of Raa Atoll will become a very busy and, as a result of this, very profitable operation,” said the President of Raa Meedhoo Council, Hassan Shareef during the ceremony held at Meedhoo last night.

The president in his address at last night's ceremony had refrained from directly addressing this request as well. He had stated that the airport established in the southern province of Raa Atoll will be devised to facilitate the best benefits for the people.

"The establishment of airports is our policy. As the Council President said, rest assured, the facilitation of this development will be in the best interests and benefits of the atoll and the region, as per the people's expectations. Consequently, I am sharing my views on the matter," the President stated at the ceremony held in the Meedhoo island school.

The construction of the airport in Fainu was appointed to Island Aviation Services during former President Abdulla Yameen’s tenure. The project was commenced with a budget of MVR 8 million, however, saw its discontinuation due to the protests of environmentalists and opposition MDP members, claiming the establishment of an airport in the island will destroy Fainu alongside the island's environment and nature.

Protestors had once again rallied in objection of establishing an airport in Fainu amid the initial announcement of the President pledging this development as well in focus of his present tour across the islands in Raa Atoll.

A number of protestors objecting the facilitation of an airport in Beriyanfaru have also emerged as this island also remains rich in environment. The former administration was set to progress the project in review of the best environmentally friendly procedures.

While the only airport in Raa Atoll is located in Ifuru, efforts to build an airport in Raa Atoll Alifushi has also commenced.