Planning Minister Mohamed Aslam has refused to answer questions in the People’s Majlis about the government’s sudden plans to build the costly MVR 451 million Alifushi Airport.
Both the current administration and the administration of former President Yameen Abdul Gayoom have expressed support for the construction of a second airport in Raa Atoll. However, during the Yameen administration, the discussions focused on building an airport in Fainu, with no mention of Alifushi.
Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) was awarded the Alifushi Airport project by the planning ministry for MVR 451 million with a completion time of 750 days, or roughly two years.
Despite the fact that R. Ifuru has an airport, many Raa Atoll residents have expressed their dissatisfaction with the long distance between their islands and Ifuru Airport, which had contributed to the government’s pledge of a second airport in Raa Atoll.
On Monday, Minister Aslam was summoned to the People’s Majlis in response to questions from Kanditheem MP Abdulla Shaheem Abdul Hakeem about water and sanitation projects in four islands in Sh. Atoll: Feydhoo, Bilehfahi, Goidhoo, and Noomara.
Following that, Maduvvari MP Adam Shareef, a member of the opposition coalition, pressed Minister Aslam to justify the unexpected decision to build an airport in R. Alifushi, which was not even planned in the Alifushi budget, rather than the southern part of Raa Atoll, which already has three resorts planned and a population of more than 12,000 people.
Aslam refused to answer the question, claiming that he had been summoned to parliament to answer questions about water and sanitation projects and that answering the question by MP Shareef would be unfair to other lawmakers.
A trip from Alifushi to Ifuru Airport takes about 20 minutes, but a trip from an island in the southern part of Raa Atoll takes longer.
Furthermore, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, around 12,000 people live in the islands on the southern part of Raa Atoll, while approximately 7,000 people live in the northern part of Raa Atoll, which includes Alifushi and Ifuru.
In addition, there are currently 13 resorts operating in Raa Atoll, the majority of which are located in the southern part.