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Maafaru airport incomplete due to bribery: Nasheed

Fathmath Shaahunaz
03 April 2019, MVT 08:42
Former President Mohamed Nasheed visits Maafaru during his campaign visit to Noonu Atoll. PHOTO: MDP
Fathmath Shaahunaz
03 April 2019, MVT 08:42

Former President Mohamed Nasheed on Tuesday claimed that the development of Maafaru International Airport in Noonu Atoll is still incomplete due to bribes allegedly taken by the previous administration.

Speaking at the campaign rally to garner support for Ahmed Haaroon, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s candidate for Manadhoo constituency in the upcoming Parliamentary Election, Nasheed declared that development projects could never be accomplished with bribes.

He attributed the lack of Maldivians benefiting from job opportunities provided by the various foreign investments present in the country, to a culture of bribery.

Nasheed shared that the current government had been in talks with Maafaru International Airport's contractor, Tuff Infrastructure Pvt Ltd of Singapore, over the past five years, and that they stood by the company.

"We would never ask the company leaders for bribes", he said stoutly, asserting that Tuff did not owe a single penny to any officials of the current government.

Nasheed accused the previous administration "from the president to the common councillor" of soliciting bribes, claiming that was the reason for the long delay in Maafaru airport's development.

The project was contracted over to Tuff Infrastructure 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.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is currently investigating various cases related to the company, including alleged deceit in winning the bidding process, unpaid payments to subcontractors, and generating suspicious profit despite pending construction.

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.

Maafaru International Airport is funded by Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD).