A Chinese contractor was chosen yesterday for the construction of the ‘China-Maldives Friendship Bridge,’ according to the Maldives ministry of housing and infrastructure.
The ministry did not reveal the chosen company. The bidding process was launched in Beijing last Tuesday and a team of 11 experts evaluated bids from three companies shortlisted by the Chinese government.
They were China Railway Major Bridge Engineering, CCCC Second Harbour Engineering, and Sichuan Road and Bridge Construction.
The project will be awarded in China this week to the company chosen by the evaluation committee based on technical capacity and lowest proposed price, the housing ministry said in a statement.
The lowest proposed cost for the project was US$200 million. The government previously estimated that the project will cost US$300, which was to be financed through US$100 million in Chinese grant aid, a US$170 million loan from China, and US$30 million from the Maldivian state budget.
A team led by Deputy Housing Minister Abdulla Muttalib is currently in Beijing for the bidding process.
A “minutes of meeting” agreement was meanwhile signed between the housing ministry and China’s ministry of commerce following discussions on the implementation phase of the project.
An agreement was reached to commence the bridge project before the end of December. The contractor will submit the construction design to the Maldivian government for approval and send a special technical team to the Maldives.
A delegation from the chosen company is also expected to visit the Maldives to sign the construction contract.
Appearing on state broadcaster Television Maldives last night, Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz said the bridge will be complete by May 2018.
Muiz said the government is unable to reveal the contractor yet as legal processes have to be completed in China.
The 1.39km-long bridge will have two lanes for four-wheeled vehicles as well as separate lanes for bicycles, motorcycles, and pedestrians. The bridge will span from Malé’s eastern edge to the western corner of the island of Hulhulé, where the airport is located.
Connecting the capital with its suburb Hulhumalé is a key campaign pledge of President Abdulla Yameen.
In January, Yameen said the government hopes to increase Hulhumalé’s population to 220,000 and urged residents of islands with small populations to migrate to the reclaimed artificial island.