Minister of Construction and Infrastructure Dr Abdulla Muhthalib has stated that his aim is to complete work on the Thilamale' Bridge prior to the predicted date of completion, while advising the implementation of necessary changes to the related work.
While the initial deadline agreed with India's Afcons company for the completion has passed, the bridge has only seen a completion of 29 percent of the required work. Following the delay in completion, the past administration signed a supplementary agreement just one day before the end of their term, effectively extending the duration for completion of the bridge granted to Afcons.
In an interview with Mihaaru News, Minister Muhthalib stated that Afcons is conducting work on the bridge in what he described as a 'learning curve'. He added that the company had also failed to obtain the appropriate machinery and tools at the commencement of the work.
He expressed hope that the work will speed up now, considering that the company has now procured additional equipment. He feels that a failure to increase the pace of the work would result in once again not meeting the deadline for the completion of the bridge.
Muhthalib noted the importance of expediting the work over the coming three weeks, adding that this would facilitate a earlier conclusion of the bridge connecting Male' to Villimale'.
He said that he would confer with the contractor to explore ways in which the government can contribute to ensuring speedier work.
"We will talk to the contractor and see what particular works can be expedited. We will discuss with them whether we can speed up the process, and also ways in which to achieve that. What we will aim for is to speed up the process without having to spend extra funds for the purpose. We aspire to speed up the project without changes in cost," Muhthalib explained.
"We will allocate land from Gulhi Falhu for them as they need land to conduct the precasting work in. What we need to look into is if the casting work can be done faster, building the pillars and assembling them with speed. We will talk to the contractors and see if we can speed up the establishment of the bridge up to Villin'gili and then also to Gulhi Falhu."
The Minister said that the current deadline is based on a timeline for completion proposed by Afcons and approved by the then government. He said he will honour that agreement, and hopes work can be concluded within that timeline.
The agreement also specifies action that can be taken in the instance the work fails to be completed in time. The Minister revealed that funds can be deducted up to ten percent of the cost of the work.
The initial agreement signed by the previous government on September 16, 2021, states that all work on the Male'-VilliMale'-Gulhi Falhu-Thilafushi bridge will be completed by May 17, 2024. However, the work got significantly delayed and on November 16, 2023, the government signed a supplementary agreement with Afcons, extending the duration till September 30, 2026.