With the anticipated opening of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, Malé will finally see respite from overpopulation. Mohamed Muizzu, Minister of Housing and Infrastructure, tells us how this “bridge of hope” will forever change the Maldives.
What does the opening of the bridge between Malé and Hulhumalé signify for the country?
The 1.2-kilometer China-Maldives Friendship Bridge is not just a physical connection between our capital and a larger reclaimed island; it is a bridge of hope. When Malé and Hulhumalé are physically connected, the dynamics of our capital region will totally change. People will get the nudge they have been waiting for to move their lives to Hulhumalé, a planned city with better roads and parks. Following the bridge’s predicted opening in August, we’re expecting Hulhumalé to begin rapidly growing, becoming bigger than Malé by 2020 when the population is expected to reach 160,000.
How will this bridge give respite to the crowded capital?
Malé is today where the majority of our population is consolidated, accounting for roughly 40% of total population. The capital island has one of the highest population densities of any capital city in the world, and there are thousands of people there in need immediate social housing. This problem was not well attended to in the past, so President Yameen have given it a lot of attention. By 2019, we’ll be able to move about 10,000 families out of Malé to Hulhumale, plus invite some of the small islands across the country to abandon their islands and come as well.
Why is the Maldives relocating people to reclaimed islands?
Our administration has spent $110 million on land reclamation, which is critical because our islands are very small. We increase the size of available land so that remote communities from less fortunate islands can be consolidated in a place with better education, health facilities and job opportunities. Over four years, we’ve reclaimed 11 different islands and are now focusing on developing infrastructure, with relocation to be ready within a year or so.
Why is this year so important for your administration?
The last four years have been the most productive years in terms of the development compared to the previous speed of development. This year, we are focused on delivering on all the projects that we have started.