Removal of wrecked bridge platform on Vilimale' reef delayed over rough seas

Wrecked bridge platform on Vilimale' reef. (Photo/Abdulla Jawad)

India’s Afcons Infrastructure undertaking the construction of the Thilamale’ Bridge was unable to remove the self-elevating platform used in the construction of the bridge that wrecked on the Vilimale’ reef last week after providing assurance to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday that the work will be done in two days, subsequent to rough seas arising from bad weather conditions.

The platform ran aground on the Vilimale’ reef on the afternoon of August 16.

Afcons said that they were forced to abort their mission to salvage the grounded platform on Vilimale’ reef due to rough seas during the past two days, as a matter of precaution.

The company stressed removal process would recommence as soon as the sea condition becomes favorable.

“We would once again like to reassure that our topmost priority is to remove the
platform with minimal impact on the reef. We are committed to safeguarding
the environment, manpower and equipment at all times,” they added.

Local environmental groups including Save the Beach and Villijoali expressed concern over lack of sufficient effort to remove the platform.

In a joint statement on Monday, the groups urged relevant authorities to treat the issue with greater seriousness and find a way to expedite the removal of the platform.

They said the immediate priority should not be to impose fines for damages, but to minimize damage to the reef.

“We believe there are experts in Maldives who can get this done. And we also believe that if a project of this magnitude is being conducted, they must be equipped to get this done,” said the groups.

The environment groups called on authorities to conduct a proper assessment of the damages to the reef, and share the findings with the public.

The delay in removal of the platform also spurred Vilimale’ MP Ahmed Usham to submit an emergency motion to the Parliament.

Presenting his motion – MP Usham said that government authorities and the company undertaking the construction of Thilamale’ bridge has failed to take adequate action to remove platform wrecked on Vilimale’ reef almost a week since the incident, despite it causing severe damage to the reef.

EPA said it would conduct an assessment of possible damages once salvage efforts were complete.