Male. October 13: The Chinese built China-Maldives Friendship Bridge connecting capital Malé with the Airport Island, which was opened about a month ago, has made travel easier and added new dimensions to local peoples’ lives.
On September 7, the Greater Male’ Transport Link was officially opened, and nine new buses began to ply on the bridge. Today, the bus service operates 52 times a day, every 20 minutes.
The bridge had created a lot of enthusiasm among the people and still continues to do so.
“On the opening day, we stopped a number of young people who didn’t pay attention to the red light and zipped across the bridge in sheer excitement. But now, since more than a month has passed, everyone is abiding by the traffic rules,” said traffic policeman Ashan.
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Nahidha, a resident of Male, was delighted to be on the bus with her three-year-old son.
“I can now take my son to Hulhumale Park at any time. Before the bridge was opened, that was not so easy,” she said.
School girl Aisha (name changed at her request) lives on Hulhumale Island, across the sea from Male. The bridge has brought much relief to her.
‘The boat ride between the two islands was affected by many factors such as the weather. I used to have difficulty getting to school on time. The school starts at 8 in the morning and in order to reach on time, I had to get up at around 5 o’clock. Even then I would be anxious about reaching on time because of the unpredictability of the weather,’ Aisha said.
With the bridge being built, she can take her father’s motorcycle every morning and reach her school in ten minutes flat. Such a thing was impossible before the bridge was opened to traffic, she said.
Hulhumale is known locally as ‘Youth City’, a vibrant young city that is at least three times larger than Male. Hulhumale has a larger park, stadium and beachfront. The opening of the bridge has made this exciting place easily accessible to all.
Rehendhi Rabindan, a foreman in a restaurant in Hulhumale, said excitedly that the opening of the bridge has made the restaurant more prosperous.
‘Since the bridge was opened to traffic last month, the number of guests coming to eat has increased significantly. On weekends, many people living in Male come here for dinner. The staff are constantly busy,’ he said.
“The completion of the bridge makes it easier for guests staying in Malé to eat here. Now, many guests who live in Male order takeaways and pick up the food in ten minutes,’ Rabindan added.
The China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, built by China Communications Construction Second Navigation Engineering Bureau Co., Ltd., is the largest infrastructure project in the Maldives to date. It is a landmark project for the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” linking China with the Maldives.
Appreciation Through Painting
The grateful people of Male have expressed their appreciation of the bridge through a painting.
On the wall of the Rehendhi Maizaan or park in Male, there are huge paintings of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge.
The artist, Ali Amir, said that at the end of October 2016, he got an assignment from the government to paint the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge on the walls of the park that was about to open. And he was requested to complete it within a week.
Amir is an expert in forensic art with a strong ability to imitate. He is good at quickly depicting the appearance of people and things as per the description is given. But depicting the bridge was a new experience for him.
He had never seen a bridge as long the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge even when he was abroad on training. It is a 2.1 km long bridge across the sea.
‘I saw the design and felt it was very beautiful. But it was a challenge to depict the bridge and the surrounding environment on the wall of nearly 50 meters and that in such a short time.’ Amir said.
Standing in front of the painting and he said: “It was the rainy season. It was very difficult to draw on the wall. However, my assistant and I carefully studied the structure of the bridge and built a shed here and worked overtime and overnight sometimes.’
The China-Maldives Friendship Bridge was started at the end of 2015. When Amir began to do the painting, the bridge was under construction. Amir’s painting of the wall attracts a lot people who come to the park.
Amir has a new plan for the future. If time permits, he will draw the bridge more delicately. He will also motivate students to paint the bridge from their own points of view.
‘I am very eager to build a bridge museum to let more people know about the bridge,’ Amir said passionately.
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