President-elect concerned over lack of progress at VIA

President-elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has stated that there is no financial constraint regarding the development of the new terminal at Velana International Airport (VIA) but expressed concern over the lack of progress.

Speaking to journalists after touring the project site, President-elect Muizzu highlighted that the failure to open the new terminal had greatly affected economic growth for the past five years. He, however, expressed confidence that the new terminal will be completed by October next year. During the tour, he also met with the team from the Saudi-based Bin Laden Group to obtain the latest information regarding the VIA development project. He said that 54% of the project was completed in the past five years, noting that the project commenced in 2017 with a plan to complete the development of the new terminal this year.

Highlighting that various setbacks has postponed the deadline, President-elect Muizzu said that the current timeline shows that the terminal is scheduled to be completed in June or July next year. He added that his aim is to complete the fieldwork for the peak tourist season, but that any more delays would make the goal unattainable. He also expressed concern that many of the works have not yet begun, noting that a working service road would be important for the new terminal but that the work has not yet been assigned. He further highlighted the importance of developing an apron, duty-free shops, and a private jet terminal.

Additionally, President-elect Muizzu said that the development of VIA is crucial to revive the economy and that its completion would result in the Maldives gaining the confidence of investors. He, therefore, said that no expense should be spared for the project, highlighting that the agreement he made with Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) to secure USD80 million is now being evaluated by the Ministry of Finance. He also noted that the government had secured USD100 million for the project from Saudi Arabia, adding that there are more parties interested in investing in the project should the government need more funding.