The Maldives announced that with the completion of the most challenging stages in the landmark bridge being constructed between capital Male and airport island Hulhule, the next stage of developing the bridge deck will commence Thursday.
The most challenging phase according to the project’s contractor, CCCC Second Harbour Engineering Company of China, was piling the pillars, which involved driving 35 piles 100 metres deep into the seabed in the seven main pillars of the bridge. Concrete reinforcement of all the pillars have been completed and they are now visible above sea level.
The current stage in progress is capping the main bridge, which links the approach bridges at Male and Hulhumale. CCCC estimates that capping will be completed this year August.
Guiding reporters on a tour of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge to show the project's progress on Wednesday, Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr Mohamed Muizzu stated that CCCC has completed preparations to begin work on the bridge deck or the I-beam. The new stage will mark the beginning of laying the bridge’s superstructure.
According to the minister, placement of the first I-beam segment will start from the Male end of the bridge on Thursday, which he described will be a historic moment.
“There will be 240 I-beam segments in the approach bridge alone,” he said.
Minister Muizzu proclaimed that all the equipment and materials required for the bridge deck and other works are already on site. Stressing the quality of the bridge which the minister is confident will please the citizens, he announced that the general look of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge will finally be realised by the end of this year.
He highlighted several times against that development of the bridge is proceeding ahead of the schedule agreed between the Maldives and China. While the agreement states that the bridge must be completed by the end of September 2018, the housing minister declared that the project can be finished by July 26, the Independence Day of the Maldives, that year.
Minister Muizzu went on to highlight that development of a bridge to connect Male with Hulhule and the reclaimed suburb of Hulhumale was the biggest electoral pledge of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Noting that the bridge will bring significant boosts to the economy, the minister referred to promises by past governments to build a bridge. He said that the dream is ultimately being realised by the current administration.
The total expense of the project amounts to USD 200 million out of which USD 116 million is provided as free aid by the Chinese government. China has also loaned USD 72 million while the Maldives’ government is bearing USD 12 million of the project.