Male, April 11 (Xinhua): It all started a few years ago with the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge. Built with support from China, the opening of the bridge meant that for the first time, people could walk from capital Male to the neighboring island of Hulhumale.
Today, five beautiful bridges built by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) have transformed communications in the tropical island paradise. While the Friendship Bridge made the Maldivians’ dream of a bridge across the sea come true, the five bridges in Hulhumale are described in local media as “opening a new chapter for the city.”
“The China-Maldives Friendship Bridge has ended the history of having to travel by boat from Male to Hulhumale, while the newly opened five bridges have solved my commuting problem between Hulhumale phase I and phase II,” said Uzair Abdulla Uwais, a fashion designer.
“I feel very glad to see that this small but beautiful project has brought so much happiness to local people. I expect the bridges will drive the flourishing development of business, culture, tourism and economy in the surrounding area,” said Zhang Tao, general manager of the CSCEC branch in the Maldives.
Hulhumale, northeast of Male, is a man-made island constructed by pumping sand from the seabed and built partly as a response to rising sea levels. The first settlement on the island was inaugurated in 2004.
The five bridges are on the waterway between Hulhumale Phases I and II. Four small bridges rise like rainbows above the waves connecting the busiest parts of town, while a fifth bridge has a more sightseeing function, joining the tourism section of Phase II with other areas.
Hulhumale is the most important emerging city in the country, with 7,000 housing units built in Phase II.
Saeed Ahmed, who has worked in Phase I for many years, was lucky enough to become a resident of the housing project last year and his housing conditions greatly improved.
“The traffic between Hulhumale Phase I and Phase II used to be difficult, I had to run to work every day, and for usual shopping, merchants are not very willing to offer home delivery service.”
“It was difficult to get from Phase I to Phase II and back, a trip I made at least once a day,” Ahmed said, before the bridges opened, he had to cross every day on wooden planks, which were slippery in rainy days.
In order to improve local commute as soon as possible, the CSCEC overcame the adverse effects of high temperature, high humidity and the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the project was completed and delivered on schedule. The five bridges have been opened one after another since the end of last year, greatly facilitating the travel of local people.
To Uwais, the bridges are already a popular destination even for wedding photographs. Known locally as the “dream bridges to happiness,” they provide something new for visitors exploring the islands. “With these five bridges, Phase II has become more popular,” he said.