The project to connect Th. Veymandhoo and Kinbidhoo via a causeway will not be completed during President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's presidency due to lack of budget, Planning Minister Mohamed Aslam has said.
On Wednesday, Thimarafushi MP Abdulla Riyaz inquired from Minister Aslam regarding the date on which the Veymandoo - Kinbidhoo causeway project would be commenced.
In his response, the minister said he could not give a date on which the project would begin, the main reason being the lack of budget to carry out the project.
Minister Aslam said a preliminary assessment was conducted before beginning the project to assess how much funds would be needed to carry out the project. While the causeway is about three kilometers long, the entire project will cost MVR 522 million - around MVR 174,000 per meter, he said.
The biggest problem encountered while planning the project was that an uninhabited island, Elaa, which lies between Veymandu and Kinbidu, had been leased for resort development, he said. When building a causeway between two islands, having a resort between them would be a challenge, and the government has decided not to build a resort in Elaa to resolve the issue, he said.
"The biggest problem is that we do not have the budget to spend MVR 522 million [on this project]. If I remember correctly, MVR one million was allocated for this project in this year's budget. Therefore, a project valued at MVR 522 million has to be started with MVR one million. With this budget, I cannot say when this project will be started,' the minister said.
The minister said the government is still looking into the possibility of building a causeway between Veymanoo and Kinbidhoo as it is a presidential pledge of President Solih. The government did the preliminary assessment of the project, checked the budget expenditure, and resolved the Elaa island issue because the government wants to make the project a reality, he said.
"The next question is whether this project can be completed within the remainder of the current term? No. It cannot be completed. Even if I do not say this, it is clear a project of this stature cannot be completed [by the end of the term], even if it is kicked off or not. I have already said MVR one million was allocated for this project from this year's budget. Honorable members, even you would know how far the project can reach with this amount. I do not have to state it," he said.
Six causeway projects are scheduled to be implemented under this year's budget. The projects will be implemented in Baa, Meemu, Thaa, and Laamu atoll. A causeway will connect Baa Fehendhoo and Goidhoo, M. Muli and Naalaafushi, Thaa Veymandoo and Kinbidhoo, Laamu Kalaidhoo and Dhanbidhoo, Laamu Kunahandhoo and MEndhoo, and Laamu Hithadhoo and Mendhoo.
While MVR 200,000 has been allocated for the Fehendhoo- Goidhoo causeway projects, MVR one million has been earmarked for causeway projects in the remaining islands. Additionally, MVR 450,000 has been allocated to carry out research on the construction of a bridge between Ga. Villingili and Kooddoo island.