Infrastructure Minister Dr Abdulla Muththalib confirmed that despite the significant delay in the Greater Malé Connectivity Bridge project, the cost payable to the contractor, Afcons of India, will not increase. The project, originally scheduled for completion by 17 May 2024, has been pushed back to 30 September 2026.

The minister, speaking at a press briefing, emphasised that the previous administration amended the contract just before their term ended, extending the deadline significantly. However, he reassured that the financial terms remain unchanged, with the total cost standing at US$500 million, excluding GST. To date, 37.33% of the total contract price, equating to US$186.7 million, has been disbursed to Afcons, including the advance for mobilisation.

Muththalib highlighted that the project, which is funded through loan and grant assistance from India, is currently at 29% completion, lagging behind the initial schedule. He cited several factors contributing to the delay, including Afcons’ inexperience in deep-sea bridge construction, underestimation of the project’s complexity, and inadequate preparation. The delay in reclaiming and handing over land from Gulhifalhu for the project was also noted as a significant factor.

Despite these challenges, the minister stated that the new deadlines are acceptable and that there is no intention to terminate the contract with Afcons or seek an alternative contractor. He mentioned that terminating the contract would require halting physical works and initiating arbitration, which the administration is not considering at this stage.

Muththalib stressed that no changes to the bridge’s design will be made to avoid additional delays and costs. The bridge, intended to last 120 years, is under continuous monitoring by government consultant Arup Limited to ensure quality.

The minister expressed optimism that with the revised plan and better understanding of the project requirements, the pace of work would increase. He concluded by acknowledging the economic implications of the delay but maintained that the financial impact on the contract value remains unchanged.