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Maafaru airport contractor seeks extended deadline

Shahudha Mohamed
21 March 2019, MVT 16:14
Maafaru International Airport situated in Noonu Atoll. PHOTO: REGIONAL AIRPORTS
Shahudha Mohamed
21 March 2019, MVT 16:14

The Singaporean contractor of the international airport being developed in Maafaru, Noonu Atoll, requested an extension on their deadline upon failure to complete the project within the allocated time frame.

The project was contracted over to Tuff Infrastructure Pvt Ltd on December 24, 2017, during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration.

Although the agreement guaranteed project completion by August 2018, airport operations have still not commenced due to many structures being incomplete.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's administration had previously granted a second extension for Tuff Pvt Ltd that expired on February 28. The company then asked for another extension, assuring that the project will be completed by May 31.

However, Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation has yet to make a statement about the request.

In the midst of complications, allegations surfaced that Tuff Pvt Ltd refused to pay a fine of USD 49,000 for each day that passed after the deadline. They proposed a fine of USD 10,000 per day instead, and an agreement has not been reached due to differences in opinion on the matter.

Tuff Pvt Ltd has generated over USD 40 million for the airport project till now, despite only the runway being completed so far, with little to no progress in the construction of the airport tower and terminal.

Various accusations, backed by documented proof, were raised against Tuff Pvt Ltd due to their misconduct regarding Maafaru airport. This includes winning the bid by questionable methods, handing over parts of the project to subcontractors, failure to compensate the subcontractors for their work, and acquiring unjust millions with deceptive means.

Additionally, a number of cases were filed to Maldives Police Service by subcontractors GKD Company and Maris Construction Company Pvt Ltd for theft and assault. GKD also pressed charges against Tuff in Civil Court for unpaid labour worth over USD 1 million.

Moreover, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is currently investigating various cases related to the company.

Maafaru International Airport is being funded by Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) and initially included a V.I.P terminal and a city hotel.

Although ADFD handed over a sum of USD 52 million to Tuff Pvt Ltd as per the initial agreement, the company later requested an additional USD 18 million.

The Singaporean company cited the airport development, exempt of the additional facilities, as costing approximately USD 48 million. Experts in the field have stated that USD 48 million for an international airport without a V.I.P lounge and a city hotel was too expensive.

Despite the various issues clouding the project, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih recently guaranteed that Maafaru airport will be developed with topnotch facilities to the standard of accommodating A380s, while speaking at a ceremony hosted by MDP in Manadhoo, Noonu Atoll.

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