The Maldivian government has terminated a contract to develop the military owned island of Thanburudhoo near Male’ as a boutique surf resort.
I think it's compensation to divert us from talking about the government taking six surf points for one project, calling it development.
The island, which is home to the world famous waves Sultans and Honkeys, was to be leased to the Singapore-based company Telos Investment for a 50 year period, in exchange for US$5 million to develop an milatary training facility on the nearby island of Girifishi. The decision has been made to keep the island open to the public as a surf heritage site.
"This will allow local surfers from around the world and organisers of surf competition to use the island in the best possible way,” says the tourism ministry.
Although, local surfers welcome the decision, many fear the u-turn was to divert attention from the construction of a bridge which may destroy several waves at Malé’s Raalhugandu.
“It’s great that we’ve got Thamburudhoo back," Ahmed Fauzan ‘Karo’ told the Maldives Independent. "But I think it's compensation to divert us from talking about the government taking six surf points for one project, calling it development.”
The bridge in question is proposed to open in 2017 and will stretch from Malé’s southeast corner at the Raalhugandu surf point to the end of the airport runway at Hulhulé, with the aim of facilitating large numbers of jobs and housing units to be built in Hulhumale.
We are living like pigeons in a cage.
"The main component that connects all this is the bridge. Therefore, god willing, he will complete the project,” Minister Adeeb told Haveeru.
The Maldivian housing minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu who studied civil engineering has been outspoken in his admiration of the project. "I truly believe that this the best we can do when considering the restrictions we face. The bridge is really grand," he said.
Local surfers however feel that despite the significant income brought from surfing, the sport has been abandoned by the authorities.
"The surfers association and other stakeholders should be consulted before a policy is formulated," added Karo.
“We are living like pigeons in a cage. Maldivians do not have any access to natural islands to go to for picnics, but you can see even now, when you go to a beautiful island, there will be a guest relaxing at the beach saying hi to you, we should be able to enjoy our own land, without begging for it."