Land reclamation for Kulhudhuffushi airport kicks off, operations to begin mid-2018
President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Sunday inaugurated the land reclamation project for the development of an airport in the island of Kulhudhuffushi in Haa Dhaal atoll, assuring the islanders that the airport will be operational by mid next year.
Six hectares off the southern coast of Kulhudhuffushi and another nine hectares from the island’s wetlands are to be reclaimed for the airport.
The land is being reclaimed using a brand new dredger brought in by the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC).
MTCC’s new trailing suction hopper dredger Mahaa Jarraafu is the largest in the Easydredge series of standard twin-screw trailing suction hopper dredgers, with a length of overall 92.95 metres and a hopper capacity of 3.700 cubic metres per load.
Mahaa Jarraafu has a “world dredging” equipment package, which includes an adjustable overflow, bottom doors, jet water system and a shore pumping installation. This makes it a versatile trailing suction hopper dredger. The ship is also equipped with an extended suction pipe and an underwater pump that enables the vessel to dredge to a depth of 50 metres.
According to MTCC, reclamation of land for the Kulhudhuffushi airport will be completed in a month.
Meanwhile, tourism minister Moosa Zameer told the attendees at the inauguration ceremony that construction of a 1,200 metre runway will commence as soon as the land is reclaimed. Arrangements are already being made to kick-start the runway project, he added.
“The airport will facilitate the development of tourist resorts as well as guesthouses in the region. This will contribute to the overall socioeconomic development,” Zameer said.
Reiterating the minister’s assurance, President Yameen later told his supporters that flights will land at the Kulhudhuffushi airport before the end of August next year.
Over a million tourists from across the globe visit the Indian Ocean island nation every year to holiday in one of the 120 resorts and 400 plus guesthouses located in all corners of the country. The multi-billion dollar tourism industry, which is the country’s main economic activity, relies heavily on the domestic transport infrastructure, especially air travel.
Maldives, the most dispersed country on the planet with 1,192 islands spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres, already has 11 airports, including three international airports. The government has contracted both local and international companies to develop additional domestic airports across the archipelago in a bid to boost tourism.