China-maldives Friend­ship Bri

In­vest­ment con­nects peo­ple and busi­nesses in the is­land na­tion

Global Times US Edition - - BIZIN -

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.”

Photo: Xin­hua

An aeriel view of the China-maldives Friend­ship Bridge link­ing the Mal­di­vian cap­i­tal of Male with neigh­bor­ing is­land Hul­hule on Fri­day

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