The government has acknowledged for the first time that its flagship project, Rasmalé, has hit a roadblock. The admission comes after months of denying reports that the project had been halted.

The new details about the land reclamation of the Fushidhiggaru Falhu, a 1,280-hectare lagoon located 10 kilometres south of Malé, were disclosed at a press conference on Thursday by Minister of Construction and Infrastructure Abdulla Muththalib. The project was launched by President Muizzu on 18 December 2023, with the aim of completing the reclamation of 1,153 hectares of land within eight months. However, the only progress made was on ‘Site J,’ where approximately 10 hectares of land were reclaimed before the project came to a standstill.

The project was contracted to the Sri Lanka-based Capital Marine and Civil Construction Company (CMCC) under a contractor finance agreement. When questioned about the project, Minister Muththalib admitted that it had stalled and was not progressing as planned. He also conceded that President Muizzu’s aim to complete the reclamation work within eight months will not be met.

The minister added that the government is now seeking alternatives to recommence land reclamation work, aiming to complete the reclamation work before the end of the year. He attributed the stalling of the project to CMCC’s failure to secure the necessary finances to carry out the project in accordance with its proposal.

President Muizzu initiated the project after challenging the parliament, which had removed the MVR 400 million proposed from the 2024 budget to focus on other ongoing land reclamation and housing projects. “Now we have to find another financing mechanism to carry on with the project,” said Muththalib.

The project was launched abruptly and with little transparency, sparking public discontent and controversy. As compensation for the project, the Muizzu administration allocated 10 hectares of land from Hulhumalé to CMCC, with an additional 60 hectares of land to be given to CMCC when the land reclamation work is completed.

Despite President Muizzu’s assurance that the project would proceed seamlessly and reach completion within an eight-month timeframe, it hit a roadblock in February. While the media was abuzz with reports of the project’s suspension, the government continued to maintain that the project was progressing as per the original plan.

Minister Muththalib revealed that the government is now looking for alternatives to continue the land reclamation project, aiming to have the reclamation work completed by the end of the year. He also stated that once work on banking sand has been completed, work on developing urban infrastructure, including roads, water supply, sewerage networks, and electricity supply work, will commence.

Noting that the project cannot be completed in the eight months as pledged earlier, Minister Muththalib stated, “However, we are working to recommence and finalise the land reclamation work before the year concludes, after which we will initiate other essential developments for housing projects, including road construction, water supply, electricity provision, and sewerage networks.”

The Muizzu administration has now decided to terminate its contract with CMCC regarding the Fushidhiggaru Falhu reclamation project. “God-willing, the land reclamation work for Rasmalé will recommence soon,” Muththalib added.