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Nightly Protests Erupt Over Suspension of Magoodhoo Airport Development

Anaan Bushry
31 March 2024, MVT 15:48
F. Magoodhoo airport
Anaan Bushry
31 March 2024, MVT 15:48

A sequence of demonstrations has arisen across the island in response to the abrupt cessation of construction on the Magoodhoo airport.

An official, speaking on behalf of the island council, expressed discontentment regarding the sudden halt in the construction of the Magoodhoo domestic airport, which was nearing completion. The council had conveyed its concerns to the President's Office through a formal letter, yet, despite the passage of 2 to 3 months, they have received no response.

Furthermore, the official voiced apprehension over the employment status of airport personnel who had been hired, signed contracts, and are now instructed to remain idle until further notice. Allegations were raised regarding the decision to halt the Magoodhoo airport construction while expediting the construction of an airport in nearby Nilandhoo, purportedly viewed as a political favor to President's sister, Fathimath Sauda, who is contesting in the upcoming parliamentary elections representing the Nilandhoo constituency.

In response, the residents of Magoodhoo have resolved to stage nightly protests until the airport construction resumes or until they receive a satisfactory response from the government regarding the cessation of construction. The latest protest was conducted at the airport site last night.

According to a spokesperson, the protests involve participation from individuals of all genders, with a commitment to convene every night at 9:30 pm until their demands are addressed.

However, Dr. Abdullah Muththalib, the Minister of Construction and Infrastructure, stated earlier that the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) has not been issued any directives to halt the airport project.

He suggested that any delay might be attributed to internal factors within MTCC, affirming that there has been no direct government orders to impede the progress of the Magoodhoo airport.

Meanwhile, MTCC has been awarded a contract to undertake land reclamation for the Nilandhoo airport, aligning with the government's policy of ensuring that every residential island, resort, and industrial area in the Maldives is within a 30-minute radius of a domestic airport. This initiative involves reclaiming 42.6 hectares of land and installing 2,098 meters of rock revetment and 1,400 meters of geobag revetment.

It is noted that the distance between Magoodhoo and Nilandhoo is approximately 5 minutes by speedboat or 20-25 minutes by ferry.

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