Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Aishath Nahula on Wednesday departs to United Arab Emirates (UAE), to discuss the development of the International Airport at Maafaru, Noonu Atoll.
According to an interview given to local media Mihaaru, Minister Nahula revealed that the visit was requested by senior officials of Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD).
Minister Nahula stated that she has been looking into the controversial development of the airport since she assumed office in November, noting that construction is currently underway after previous delays in development.
Maafaru International Airport's development is contracted by Tuff Infrastructure Pvt Ltd of Singapore.
The minister stated that details of a meeting with Tuff Pvt Ltd will be revealed following discussions with ADFD in Dubai.
While Tuff is accused of hiring subcontractors to undertake all the works for airport development, which is a violation of contract, the subcontractors have further revealed that Tuff had failed to remove "a single particle of sand" from the island to prepare for construction.
The airport is being funded by free aid from ADFD. The project was handed over to Tuff Pvt Ltd by former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, on December 24, 2017.
Initially a USD 52 million project, including the establishment of a city hotel and VIP terminal along with the airport. However, the additional developments were axed upon ADFD’s request and the final cost of the project was settled at USD 48 million (MVR 740 million). Experts in the field have stated that USD 48 million for an international airport without a VVIP lounge and a city hotel is too expensive.
Furthermore, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is currently investigating a case related to Maafaru International Airport, focusing on questionable winning of the bid, acquiring unlawful wealth by means of deception, and failing to pay subcontractors.
GKD Company, a subcontractor for the airport development, has filed a case at Civil Court against Tuff Pvt Ltd, for an unpaid amount of over USD 1 million.
The company has also filed a case against Tuff Pvt Ltd with Maldives Police Service, regarding recent destruction of their property.
The deadline for the project was slated for August 2018 but was later pushed back for February 2019 upon request by the company.