SINAMALE’ BRIDGE - A bridge for development

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The Sinmale’ Bridge is one of the largest infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the Maldives. It offers the convenience of ‘land travel’ as opposed to sea travel for people commuting to work between Male’ and Hulhumale’ and for the thousands who travel every week to visit their families. A bridge that connects Male’ and Hulhumale’ has been a dream for thousands who live in Male’ and Hulhumale’ since Hulhumale’ was settled in 2004.

Presidents and presidential candidates have promised the bridge during the last twelve years; the noise of those promises increasing whenever a presidential election is on the horizon.

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A dream

accomplished

Today the bridge is a reality, a dream that has been accomplished by President Yameen Abdul Gayoom. For President Yameen the bridge is more than just an alternative means to travel between the two islands. For the President, it is a catalyst for development. One that would help fulfil his vision for the country and for Greater Male’, as a modern city, where business opportunities for large and small businesses are abundant, families live a happy, healthy life, and those who live in the region as well as those outside, have access to modern housing, the latest medical services, top ranking educational institutions and a choice of recreational and entertainment facilities are available for the youth.

It is President Yameen’s strategic vision, that has eventually brought fruition to the dream of building the bridge.

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Sinamale’ Bridge; a catalyst for development

In addition to the minor and major conveniences that the bridge offers, it performs a much larger and more important function; joining the two largest communities in the country, to form one single market for businesses; a market that has immediately expanded to over 200,000 as soon as the bridge was opened and will grow to over half a million in the next decade. Hulhumale’ has been designed for a population of 240,000.

The size of the market is one of the most important factors when it comes to success of businesses. Even before the bridge, residents of Male’ were able to access goods and services offered by businesses in Hulhumale’ and vice versa. However, two communities living on two islands separated by the ocean would not equate to a large community living on one land mass.

Business need scale to offer high quality services. Certain medical facilities, world class education, entertainment and recreation centres, are not viable if the market is too small. With a small market, experts in various medical specialties would not have the patient numbers required to make their stay worthwhile in the country. This is true with many facilities and services we yearn for today.

The size of the market is not only of importance to modern high-end facilities and services, it is also a key factor for the success of start-ups by youth and women, small and medium enterprises and individuals who offer their skills and services to households and businesses. Today coffeeshops and cafes in Hulhumale’ are filled and they see a huge boost in business. Their daily business revenue has doubled just overnight.

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The cycle of growth

The size of the market is one of the most important aspects for any business. That is why we see fewer businesses in islands where the population is small and more where there is a larger population. With a large population, businesses are more likely to be sustainable and profitable. This applies to any business, be it corner shops, craft shops, restaurants, supermarkets, hospitals, schools or cinemas.

As a result of the larger market created by the bridge, there will be more investment in small and large businesses. This will create employment. Employment would attract more people to the City, and the resident population will increase because of new jobs and opportunities. At the same time for people who move into the region, there will be more services and more facilities, more choice of schools, a greater choice of shops to shop from and more choice and variety when it comes to any goods or services needed for their daily lives.

The increase in population will offer greater incentives for more entrepreneurs as a result of a larger market as we are seeing now. Large and small new businesses will sprout, and existing businesses will expand. This creates still more employment opportunities and the cycle will continue, expanding with each additional cycle.

The government’s overall strategy has been carefully laid out and implementation has already begun to ensure all areas are required for growth are covered; space for expansion, housing for the projected population, industrial areas for businesses, parks for families to relax are all included in the Hulhumale’ design. As a result, the economy is bound to grow multiple times without pressure on infrastructure, housing or social services.

Abdulla Fathyn