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Picnic islands to be built near Malé

The capital lacks a natural beach and its residents flock to suburb islands at weekends.

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Two picnic islands are to be built near the capital, a state-owned company said Tuesday, more than a year after the project was first launched.

The Maldives Integrated Tourism Development Corporation (MITDC) said they will be in Galufalhu lagoon, which is 15 minutes from Malé.

Uninhabited islands that are open to the public for recreational use are known as ‘picnic islands’ in the Maldives.

Kuda Bandos and Feydhoo Finolhu, previously used as picnic islands by residents of the congested capital city, were controversially leased for resort development. Malé lacks a natural beach and its inhabitants flock to the suburb islands of Hulhumalé and Vilimalé on weekends.

The government has so far failed to deliver on a promise to allocate a new picnic island near Malé and the restart of the project comes as the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, in its manifesto for the September presidential elections, pledged to develop a picnic island for Malé residents..

Around MVR50 million (US$3.24 million) has been estimated as the total cost to reclaim the seven hectares needed for the two islands, MITDC managing director Mohamed Shahid said.

“We are hoping to finish the reclamation work within two months and complete the whole project in six months,” he was quoted as saying by Mihaaru.

The company said that affordable services – such as day rooms, a barbecue area, a restaurant and water sports facilities – would be available on the two islands.

Shahid added that the reclamation work would be handed over to a company this month.

The project was first announced more than a year ago, when MITDC said it was evaluating bids for developing a picnic island  near Malé.

The company sought expressions of interest in March 2017 and offered, as an incentive, a 50-year lease to develop a tourist resort on a portion of the reclaimed island.

An MITDC official told the Maldives Independent at the time that the company was evaluating proposals but declined to provide further information.

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