Thilamale’ bridge deadline extended to 2026 by former administration in new agreement

Workers engaged in physical works on Thilamale’ Bridge project on November 22, 2023. (Photo/Infinite Moments/Aaish Ashraf)

Infrastructure Minister Dr. Abdulla Muthalib, on Thursday, revealed former president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration executed an agreement in the course of its last days, extending the deadline of the Thilamale’ Bridge project till the end of September 2026.

Thilamale’ Bridge project, linking Male’, Vilimale’, Thilafushi and Gulhifalhu, is one of the biggest projects initiated by the former administration and one of the most criticized over its slow progress.

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, who took oath of office last Friday, alongside senior officials from his administration inspected the works underway on the bridge yesterday. In a press conference held this evening, Infrastructure Minister Muthalib said the former administration, in its last days, had signed a supplementary agreement with respect to the project.

Minister of Construction and Infrastructure Dr. Abdulla Muthalib speaks at a press conference on November 23, 2023. (Photo/Ministry)

The initial agreement dictated a deadline of end of next year to complete the project. The supplementary agreement executed by the previous administration during its last days has extended the deadline to September 30, 2026.

Furthermore, Minister Muthalib also revealed an oral agreement had been made, extending the deadline for Male-Villimale section of the bridge to March 2025. Nevertheless, he said the new administration will honor these agreements.

“The most important thing at present is to not deviate from this schedule. The second is to explore in find out whether we can expedite the project without deviating from the schedule,” he said.

“That, however, is not something that can be achieved contractually. The contractor and the government had signed a binding agreement,” he added.

No additional funds will be incurred for the project despite the supplementary fund.

Minister Muthalib described the slow progress of the project as a huge loss. Nevertheless, he said the new administration will undertake all possible efforts to expedite the project.

Only 29 percent of the bridge project has been completed so far.

The construction of the Thilamale’ Bridge was contracted to India’s Afcons Infrastructure in August 2021. The project is funded with a USD 400 million loan from India’s Exim Bank.

The former administration has previously admitted that the project wasn’t progressing at the speed they wanted.