The ground breaking for the first pillar of the Thilamale' bridge project was officiated by Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
The ceremony took place in India, amid the four-day official visit by Maldivian head of state.
Ground breaking ceremony was held virtually in the presence of the project's contractor Afcons. President Solih and Indian PM officiated the ceremony from New Delhi.
Maldivian dignitaries participated in the ceremony while present at Male' Industrial Village where the project equipment and machinery are stacked. The zone is also used as the project site as it is situated at the west end of Maldives capital, which oversees the village island of Vilimale'.
Male' City will be linked with Vilimale' under the initial phase of the largest infrastructural project to be conducted in the Maldives, exceeding construction process from that of the Sinamale' Bridge project.
Among the dignitaries who attended the ceremony virtually at the Industrial Village included Maldives Vice President Faisal Naseem and Minister of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (MNPHI) Mohamed Aslam along with some of the cabinet members.
Following the ground breaking, President Solih stressed on the bilateral ties between Maldives and India which is proven by the latter's aid in major development projects including the Thilamale' bridge as well as a new 4,000 unit housing project.
While expressing gratitude to the Maldives government and its people for the close ties, the Indian PM affirmed the country's commitment to remain as a close ally.
In addition to this, it was announced during the ceremony, that Indian EXIM Bank will extend assistance under buyer's credit for another 2,000 units housing project.
Maldives government announced an expected expense of USD 500 million (MVR 7.7 billion) on the bridge project, for which India's EXIM Bank extended a USD 400 million loan and a grant of USD 100 million.
Under the agreement, Maldives state will commence loan repayment of the project five years post completion.
The project's contractor, Afcons confirm their commitment to complete the initial phase of linking Male' City with Vilimale' will conclude by July 23, 2023.
The second phase involves linking Gulhifalhu with the industrial island of Thilafushi, which will commence by December next year.
The Thilamale' bridge will span 6.7 kilometers linking the islands in Greater Male' region.