China-maldives Friendship Bri
Investment connects people and businesses in the island nation
The China-maldives Friendship Bridge, the first cross-sea bridge in the Maldives and built by a Chinese company, marks the beginning of a new chapter for Maldivians.
The 2-kilometer bridge, inaugurated on August 30 of last year, links the Maldivian capital of Male with neighboring island Hulhule, where the nation’s only international airport is located.
The bridge, an iconic China-maldives co-building project for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, makes it possible for locals and tourists to travel between the two islands within five minutes.
On the first anniversary of the bridge’s inauguration, Maldivians sang and danced on the bridge in celebration of the achievement.
For years, Maldivians have relied on ferries as their means of transport between the atolls in the Indian Ocean.
The Chinese-built bridge has not only brought convenience to the lives of Maldivians, but has also offered new business opportunities and new jobs to many residents living in Hulhumale, a
reclaimed island developed for a housing complex, northeast of Hulhule and Male.
A Maldivian man, who lives in Hulhumale but works in Male, told Xinhua that it seemed like Male, Hulhule and Hulhumale had been linked as a city by the bridge.
The opening of the bridge has also increased economic vitality, as the auto-repair industry is prospering in Hulhumale. When Xinhua visited Maldivian Hassan Hakeem’s auto-repair shop, a dozen vehicles were parked and waiting to be repaired.
Shop-owner Hakeem said that due to traffic restrictions, the car repair industry had not developed in the Maldives. “We firmly believe the opening of the bridge will bring us more business,” he said. “In the past, all of our auto-repair shops in the Maldives imported a total of 300 or 400 tires every three months, but now Hulhumale alone needs to import more than 1,400 tires a month.”
There are many famous cafes and restaurants in Hulhumale. Due to inconvenient traffic in the past, only the weekends or major holidays would see visitors from Male.
After the bridge was opened to traffic, the cross-island takeaway service has become standard for many food and beverage outlets.
Jelly Pizza is a chain restaurant that has several branches in Male. Its crossisland takeaway branch is located in a secluded alley, with couriers and four or five delivery motorcycles on standby.
Courier Jahanjir spoke to Xinhua just as he received an order to deliver a pizza within 30 minutes to a customer who lives in Hulhumale.
“I have to travel back and forth several times a day on the bridge because there are at least three or four trips to Hulhumale every day,” he said.
Maisha, who is in charge of finance at the pizza store, said, “Our customers mainly live in Male. Now there is a bridge. Customers who live in Hulhumale also place their orders now. We are preparing to open a branch in Hulhumale.”
An aeriel view of the China-maldives Friendship Bridge linking the Maldivian capital of Male with neighboring island Hulhule on Friday