Commercial port should be relocated to North, Huvadhoo Atoll: MP Ali Hussain

Kendhoo MP Ali Hussain has stated that it would be more beneficial to halt plans to relocate Male' Commercial Harbour to reclaimed Gulhifalhu, and instead relocate it to Huvadhoo Atoll in the north province.

Maldives government has revealed that an expenditure of US$ 300 million (MVR 5 million) will be incurred to develop the Gulhifalhu port, and that the funds will be arranged via the Indian Exim Bank in the form of a loan.

On Tuesday, a press conference was held at Maagiri Hotel by the Economic Ministry to brief the media on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

In response to a question posed at the conference, Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail revealed that the surveys and research necessary to develop the Gulhifalhu ports are currently underway. The practical work of the project will be implemented during the final quarter of the year, said the minister.

"The design work is currently ongoing. The project is funded by Indian Exim Bank. The project report needed [to arrange funding] will be issued before the end of the month. We hope to hand over the work to the contractor mid-year", he said.

MP Ali Hussain said it would be cheaper and a more beneficial investment to shift the commercial port to Huvadhu atoll.

"There will be no need to reclaim 23 cubic meters of land in that case", Ali Hussain said.

The previous government had plans to relocate the commercial harbour to industrial island Thilafushi instead of Gulhifalhu. Speaking on the current government's decision to change the location, the minister said the decision was made after taking into consideration the waste disposal issues faced by capital Male' and options that would allow for the port to be expanded in the future.

"The decision was made following discussion with the Cabinet. Thilafushi is already an industrial island. We contemplated waste-disposal issues that the region may face in the next hundred years before reaching the decision," said Fayyaz.

While it is estimated that US$ 300 million will be incurred for the development of the port, the port will be a state-of-the-art structure, said the minister. The funding being arranged for the project is specifically allocated for the port project only, said the minister.

"This port will become a competitive port in the region. While we hope for the port to be completed along with the bridge [connecting the Greater Male' area], we hope to relocate all warehouses and godowns as well. This will bring down the cost of goods, and open up opportunities for transhipment," said Fayyaz.