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Thinadhoo Airport project will be handed over after ensuring investor capacity: Ministry

Malika Shahid
22 February 2024, MVT 13:05
At the signing of the agreement to build an international airport in Thinadhoo.
Malika Shahid
22 February 2024, MVT 13:05

The Ministry of Construction and Infrastructure has said that the Maldivian government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Thailand's Pan Pacific Company Limited for the construction of Thinadhoo International Airport in Gaafu Dhaalu atoll. The Ministry added that the contractor agreement will only be signed after a thorough assessment of the company's technical and financial capabilities.

The Maldives signed a MoU with Thailand's Pan Pacific Company Limited to develop an international airport on the island. The signing ceremony took place in Thinadhoo on Tuesday night following President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu's visit to the island.

On behalf of the government, Minister Muththalib signed the agreement worth approximately USD 600 million. The agreement was signed by CEO Jirat Petnunthawong on behalf of Pan Pacific Company.

GDH. Thinadhoo International Airport drawings

Concerns have been raised regarding the capacity of Pan Pacific Company, awarded the airport development project in Thinadhoo. The company's business registration indicates it was involved in wholesale clothing, and there is limited public information available about its company profile. Additionally, details about Jirat Petnunthawong, who signed the agreement on behalf of the company, are not publicly available.

The lack of information regarding Pan Pacific Company's previous involvement in large-scale projects has raised questions about its technical expertise and capability to undertake such a significant project.

The Construction Ministry stated that the MoU with Pan Pacific Company was signed after approval from the Economic Council to assess the necessary requirements before finalizing the agreement for the Thinadhoo International Airport project.

"The contract for the project can only be signed after ensuring the technical and financial capability of the contractor and considering all aspects that need to be examined in accordance with the laws and regulations of the country," the Ministry said in the statement.

According to the statement, Pan Pacific has submitted a proposal to develop a four-kilometer runway, an international and domestic passenger and seaplane terminal, including all the facilities of an international airport. Additionally, the development of a luxury resort, a yacht marina, and a flight school has also been proposed.

Minister of Construction and Infrastructure, Dr. Abdulla Muththalib, stated that the Maldives government will not be spending on this airport project, and all costs will be borne by the investor. In return, the company has proposed to develop 12 resorts.

Minister Muththalib said that only the MoU for the airport development was signed and no additional agreements were made.

"Instead of giving 12 islands, the government signed an MOU with them to go into contractor negotiations. When they sign, there will be agreements. The proposal at the moment is to create 2,400 beds in 12 islands and make the airport feasible," Muththalib said.

"No decision has been made to give anything. We went to an understanding because their initial proposal is attractive to us. It's done within the law and regulations," he said.

He said that if islands are given for the development of resorts, it will be done in a way that the state obtains taxes and rent. The next step will be to decide on how to value the acquisition cost while giving them in terms of cross-subsidy.