A year ago, our small island nation caught global attention by making headlines in international media. Contrary to the past, this time they were not lured in by our political affairs. Instead, they were captivated by the massive structure connecting three islands over a vast ocean - the Sinamalé Bridge.
The Sinamalé Bridge was constructed with the aid of the Chinese 12 months ago. In light of the bridge's one year anniversary, Maldives National University (MNU)'s Student Union and Maldives China Trade and Cultural Organization (MCTCO) teamed up and interviewed 300 people for a study targeting the level of influence the bridge had on their livelihood and on business enterprises.
The study noted great benefit to business enterprises and individuals within the region, as well as a significant impact on our economy.
All participants of the survey cross the bridge for different purposes daily.
The study shows that from among the survey participants, 48% crossed the bridge at least twice a day while the rest of the participants traveled up and down the bridge 3-4 times a day.
Convenient travel for students
The construction of the bridge has most positively impacted students who reside in Hulhumale' but are enrolled at educational institutions in Male'. According to the interviews, these students had previously traveled by sea in terror under dire weather conditions. On such days, circumstances often resulted in late attendance, or missing important exams. Additionally, a lot of time was spent traveling back and forth every day.
Since the opening of the bridge, most individuals who participated in the survey claim they were no longer burdened with these challenges. Parents no longer have to fear sending their children to school through turbulent waters. Additionally, the study further revealed that students are now more able to work part time and earn, while studying, due to the shortened commute time.
Comfortable travel to the airport
The study highlights the ease for travelers going to Velana International Airport in Hulhule' island, with an elimination to the need to haul heavy luggage around. Furthermore, since Hulhule' is connected to Male' and Hulhumale' through the bridge, the survey further notes that individuals working at the airport are benefited as well. Moreover, ill people from around the nation who travel to Male' by air in emergency situations no longer need to cross the sea to reach Male' from the airport. They can ride in an ambulance across the bridge and head directly to the hospital.
According to the study, travelers no longer have to arrive at the airport way ahead of time, nor do tourists have to face the trouble of travelling to guest houses in Male' and Hulhumale' with difficulty. The price of travel has decreased as well, inversely benefiting those involved in the tourism sector.
Prices of goods fall following the opening of the bridge
Previously, there was a huge burden on shipping goods to Hulhumale'. Some businessmen who participated in the study noted that it was a hassle to transport and receive goods by lorry, then loading and unloading cargo in a garage in Male', and then carrying the load by sea to Hulhumale'. Consequently, the report further highlights how in addition to wasting a lot of time, the price of goods were increased due to the increase in logistic expenses.
The study further noted that since the bridge was opened, the cost of transporting goods from Male' to Hulhumale' had a 30% decrease. Earlier, where two lorries and a boat were required at minimum, a single lorry is not sufficient. Around 45 businesses that took part in the study supported the finding. The businesses also stated that there was a tremendous ease in moving damaged goods from one place to the other.
Furthermore, business has improved for restaurants and cafés situated in Hulhumale'. As disclosed by the study, there is opportunity for expansion in the reclaimed suburbs.