Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Bridge Too Far?

Few development proposals have stirred as much controversy as the Bridge to Hulhumale. Supporters see it as a bridge to the future, while opponents see it as an unattainable dream. Let us examine some of the hottest debates.

Technical feasibility

The distance between Male and Hulhule is about 960 meters, land to land, and 860 meters, reef to reef. Compared to this the longest span in the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is about 1200 meters. The average depth of the Golden Gate channel is 120 meters. These figures would appear to suggest the bridge is technically feasible. However there are other issues to be solved such as the shortage of land to locate base structures. How the stream of traffic from the bridge will cross the runway safely is also a thorny issue.

Economic feasibility

When the idea of the bridge was first mooted the estimated cost was $30 million. In more recent estimates the cost has escalated to $60 million. It's likely that when detailed specifications are available the cost would jump over $100 million. (Golden Gate was constructed at a cost of $33 million in the 1930s. Its total length is twice the Hulhumale Bridge).

Opponents see the cost of the bridge as a burden that can never be recovered through toll. Supporters say all public infrastructure is not built on cost recovery basis. They cite examples such as regional airports, Male Sea Wall and island harbors. The strongest argument for the bridge is the relief it will bring to congestion in Male by opening up hundreds of thousands of square feet of housing area and parking space.

Let’s have your views on the controversy.


Built Environment Professional said...

If you consider the fact that maumoon has said that foreign investors are going to invest in this bridge, the obvious question of return comes up. For a reasonable return on this, there will be a need for a significant traffic on this. To get this significant traffic - do we again get a lot of people to Hulhumale (away from the other islands) and aggravate a bad situation. Or do we impose a high toll on the traffic. There is bound to be some traffic to Hulhule - but Maumoon has said that the bridge is to be constructed between Male' and Hulhumale' (see his siyaasee 2008 program for exact words).

I think we would be very gullible to think that a bridge could be built for even 60million $. A prefeasibility study in the late 1980s early 1990s for a possible bridge between Male' and Villingili (with a single lane) was estimated at 32 million US$ (approach roads excluded)...

I am not personally against a bridge.. But we should study its feasibility well before going for it.

Anonymous said...

If a bridge comes up, with its safety, rules, regulation, maintenance, then that would be really nice.But this seems unreal, like a dream.Personally I think its impossible.But if it comes up, I would be happy that things did not turn out as I thought.

Anonymous said...

We have already run into a deficit of 33% of the budget of this year. We are already in debt, both foreign and domestic.

The Bank of Maldives has only Rf 100 mil liquid.

So where does this money come from?

Anonymous said...

Last night on TVM I heard Gayoom has promised another bridge from Hulhu-Meedhoo to the Addu mainland (Gan-Hithadhoo-Maradhoo-Feydhoo).
At this rate the senile old man will promise a bridge from Sri Lanka to North Male.
God save us from the idiot and seemingly eternal rule of Gayoom.

Anonymous said...

The money will come from the President's numbered Swiss accounts? The project is worthwhile to buy another 5 year term. The President can cover his investment by the end and the glory of the bridge will assure another 5 years. and at the end of that he'd be old enough to propose an alternative bridge to Siraath magu with all the money he'd have amassed.

Anonymous said...

Why do we even discuss what Gayoom proposes I wonder?!

Nur said...

I agree that future of Maldives depend on constructing several bridges between some large islands in like Male' - Hulhule' - Hulhumale and Hulhumeedhoo - Hithadhoo. These are good ideas. But the question is the economic feasibility and environmental impact.

When considering environment impact, we need to remember the fragile status of male' outer reef. Recent servery have found out that there are large cracks on the reef and if this reef or a part of a reef breaks apart and falls off, it would be a huge threat on the very existence of male'. We also need to do a proper E.I.A as our Environment minister Dr.Mausoom recently suggested. We need to find out whether the Maldivian soil supports such a structure.

On the economical front, it looks more gloomy. With the ever increasing budget deficit to +30%, and national debt at +80% of budget, it is highly doubtful that the next government can bear such a project. And now Maumoon is talking about a second bridge.

The other way to finance these projects are foreign investment. Then also it would depend on the financial feasibility study. Whether there is going to be enough traffic to cover the cost withing a reasonable amount of time.

Other issues regarding Male' - Hulhumale' brigde is that it would block the main shipping line. So either we need to find a new route for ships to enter Male' commercial harbour or relocate the commercial harbour. Otherwise we could construct a bridge that would open in the middel to allow ships to pass through. But I don't think given the heights of the land of male' and hulhumale' we can construct a bridge that is high enough to let ships pass underneath it.

With all the given issues and sinarios, I would have to conclude that the bridge promise is just an illusion showed by our leader. Lets not forget that even if didn't promise it before, he used a drawing of a bridge between male' and hulhumale in is 2003 presidential campaing. And there was an announcement in 2004 by the goverment to find foreing parties who are interested to build this bridge. We should ask him what happend to this project?

Anonymous said...

I am a Maldivian, studying in a very relevant field, from my understanding of the technical aspects of the coral reefs and other related issues I see the bridge issue is a big joke, technically its very hard to beleive its possible. Unconfined compressive strength of the coral rock was within the range of 2-14 (MPa). So guys think about it, I dont think this is feasible at all.

Anonymous said...

As given in the article the commercial feasibility of a bridge is virtually nil.

The problem is the making of such promises without any credible backing of the way and means with which they will accomplish it. This can be said as propaganda to win over the electorate.

For the medium term it would be more feasible and of benefit to establish a strong and efficient ferry system between Hulhumale' and Male'. Ferry's which can accommodate vehicles and along with high standard of service to passengers. A separate ferry system for cargo should be established.

When the population of Hulhumale' reaches above 20k then we should look at the feasibility of a bridge.

Anonymous said...

"For the medium term it would be more feasible and of benefit to establish a strong and efficient ferry system between Hulhumale' and Male'. Ferry's which can accommodate vehicles and along with high standard of service to passengers. A separate ferry system for cargo should be established."

Very true.

faisal said...

It is sad that Maumoon continues to campaign promising material things like bridges, mosques, hospitals, harbors etc, when far important things have to be realised for this country. Majority of the people will only have to look around them to know that what they need is not a bridge to hulhumale', but a path to a better education, a place to get proper health care, a society with morals and values, a workplace without intimidation and harassment, a house bigger than just two rooms, a family you can spend more time with than at the part time jobs to make ends meet, a bridge to personal happiness.

Israau said...

if possibe we want connet each and every island of this country. how do we digest this!! its not easy as we pronouse the word bridge..

Anonymous said...

I dont think the whole wight of the bidge will be concentrated only on one point.


Anonymous said...

The promise of a bridge between Male' and Hulhumale' is an insult to the majority of Maldivians who live without proper sanitation and clean drinking water.

We need to get our priorities right.

Anonymous said...

well thats not actually a bridge, "it's a bridge which will take away all the drugs from male" hahahah

i don't know how stupid he is to give such a stupid idea.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys! If a bridge is not feasible, why not dig a hole between Male' and where ever you want, just the way the British and the French did across the channel?

But please don't mention it gayyoom! Just to save the old fella from dreaming of digging holes all under the reefs and seas!

Anonymous said...

maumoon promissed only two bridges. i will vote for him if he has a plan to bridge all the 1200 islands of maldives.

Anonymous said...

Its not just a bridge, its a unique invention. Its a bridge and a deterrent to drug abuse and rehabilitation.

Brilliant idea it seems, if i may add, how about a bridge, that is also saves the ozone layer, which produces fuel 10 billion barrels a day and protects the earth from alien invasions and ALSO acts as a deterrent to drug abuse in Maldives. I guess this idea couldn't even be matched by USA.

Anonymous said...

the major question seems to be should we vote for maumoon on the basis of his plans or not. i think not because his ideas aren't feasible at all