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State Budget allocates MVR56 mln to establish bridge toll system

13 November 2018, MVT 19:16
Drivers atop Sinamale' bridge. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/MIHAARU
13 November 2018, MVT 19:16

Over MVR 56 million has been allocated in the State Budget 2019 to establish a toll system for the Sinamale’ Bridge.

Regarding the budget submitted to the parliament on Tuesday, Minister of Finance and Treasury Ahmed Munawar stated that the ministry assigned a certain budget for a toll collection system for the Sinamale’ Bridge.

Although MVR 56 million is assigned to establish the toll system, a further MVR 13 million has been allocated for the maintenance of the Sinamale’ Bridge.

Moreover, MVR 15 million is designated for the improvement of the infrastructure of capital Male’, while MVR 25 million is allocated for the construction of roads in the capital city.

MVR 62 million was initially assigned for the establishment of a toll system this year. However the government has so far failed to establish the system.

Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr. Mohamed Muizzu previously told local media Mihaaru that design for the toll system was assigned to a Chinese firm working under CCCC Second Harbour Engineer Company.

The government had held talks about collecting a fee for the bridge, since an establishment of a toll system was believed to be the optimum way to repay the Maldives' loan to China. The talks were held between the Housing Ministry, the Police and Transport Authority. Minister Muizzu has stated that establishing the toll system will be left for the government of President-Elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

An electronic toll system has been deemed the best fit to avoid traffic on the bridge, according to the Housing Minister.

Muizzu further pointed out that a toll-free bridge was not seen as an ultimate solution for the government, noting that official documents from the previous government of President Mohamed Nasheed had highlighted as much.

USD 200 million was the total cost of the construction of the Sinamale’ Bridge, of which USD 116 million was given as free aid and USD 72 million as a loan by China. The Maldivian government, on the other hand, spent MVR 12 million for the project.

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