A US$40 million project has been awarded to an Indian consortium for road construction in newly reclaimed land in the capital’s suburb Hulhumalé.
The Housing Development Corporation (HDC) signed a contract with the Consortium of Mohan Mutha Exports and Ashoka Buildcon on Wednesday.
“This project comprises of the construction and development of all major road networks in Hulhumalé Phase II, connecting all the neighbourhoods and commercial areas such as the tourism district, yacht marina and knowledge park,” the HDC said.
The project will be completed in 18 months and also includes “provisions for service providers, pavements, street lights, road signs, and road markings.”
The HDC said the project will cost US$40,394,733.87, but Indian media reported that the estimated cost is US$38.11 million.
Indian companies awarded large projects in recent years have faced contractual disputes with the government.
India-Maldives relations sourced after the previous government’s abrupt termination of an agreement with Indian infrastructure giant GMR to develop the international airport. Last year, the current administration cancelled an agreement with Tatva Global Renewable Energy to provide waste management services in Malé and renegotiated a housing contract with the TATA group.
In a sign of improving ties, a Maldives-India joint commission was revived earlier this month with both sides committing to broadening cooperation.
At the high-level talks, the Maldivian government asked for India’s assistance in finding investors for its flagship project of developing a ‘Youth City’ in Hulhumalé as a commercial hub.
Earlier this year, 240 hectares of land was reclaimed in the artificial island, adding to the 188 hectares reclaimed in 2002.
In January, President Abdulla 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 new city.
According to the 2014 census, the population of the Maldives stands at 338,434 people, of which 38 percent reside in Malé.
The government is also planning to build a bridge connecting Malé and Hulhumalé with assistance from the Chinese government.
Last month, the Saudi Fund for Development granted a US$80 million loan to finance infrastructure projects in Hulhumalé.
HDC Managing Director Mohamed Simon told the press at the time that the funds will be used for several projects, such as sheet piling 1,200 metres of land, creating waterways and channels, connecting the phase two mainland and an ‘economic zone’ via seven small bridges, and constructing two harbours in the yacht maria area and economic zone.
The HDC is a 100 percent state-owned enterprise tasked with the urban development of Hulhumalé, which was created to solve the capital’s acute housing shortage.
On Thursday, the company signed an agreement with the Islamic ministry to build a mosque, a mortuary, and cemetery in Hulhumalé. The cemeteries in the congested capital are near full capacity.
The HDC also leased a plot of land adjacent to the Hulhumalé hospital to the health ministry last week to build a quarantine facility.
Health Minister Dr Iruthisham Adam said the Islamic Development Bank has provided about US$4.2 million for the project. The ministry has now completed evaluating bids for the project, she said, and construction work is expected to begin next month.