The Maldives government announced that special double-decker buses are being designed to launch bus services with the unveiling of the landmark overwater bridge being developed between capital Male and airport island Hulhule.
Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr Mohamed Muizzu told Mihaaru in an interview that the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge is designed to cater for express bus services. He revealed that double-deckers are currently being designed especially for public transportation across the bridge.
“The buses are designed to be spacious without blocking traffic on the bridge. We’re working to operate buses from Male to Hulhule and Hulhumale,” said the minister, referring to the reclaimed suburb island of Hulhumale, which is already connected to Hulhule island via a causeway across their shared lagoon.
According to the minister, the former Adi Park which is now the temporary site for bridge contractor CCCC Second Harbour Engineering Company Ltd, will be developed as the bus terminal. He proclaimed that preparations to establish the double-decker bus service in time to open the bridge are proceeding with haste.
The bridge will also be open for private transportation despite public bus services. Noting that toll fees will be charged from those that use the bridge, Minister Muizzu explained that toll fees are necessary for bridge maintenance costs, adding that it is a common system in other countries as well.
“We’ll establish an automatic toll system which will charge the fee via a device installed in the vehicle,” he said, stating that the government will have procured the necessary electronic devices by the time the bridge is opened.
Minister Muizzu reiterated that the bridge development project is progressing speedily ahead of schedule. He estimated that 80 percent of the bridge will be completed by mid-2017, adding that work on the bridge’s main deck will also commence next year.
The government is planning to unveil the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge in July 2018.
The Chinese government is providing free aid of USD 116 million to fund the project which costs total USD 200 million. China also granted a loan of USD 72 million while the Maldives government is investing USD 12 million for the project.
China will also oversee maintenance and repairs of the bridge for the first two years after its inauguration. During this period, a local maintenance team will put together and properly trained for the work.