The Maldives is an independent island nation in the north-central Indian Ocean, which consists of about 1,200 small coral islands and sandbanks (some 200 of which are inhabited).
One third of the approximately 450,000 inhabitants live in the capital, Male’ city. While Male’ is relatively developed, the outlying islands require economic and social infrastructure development.
Last week, we took an opportunity to talk with Mr. Hassan Shah, the Chief Executive Officer of Maldives Transport and Contracting Company Plc. (MTCC), who provided us with invaluable insight into the company’s business and development plans and their most important projects on the horizon.
DT: Let’s begin by introducing your company to our readers?
Mr. Hassan Shah: At the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC), we focus on nation-building; building harbors, roads, airports and infrastructure that is needed to move the country forward.
We also reclaim land to enlarge a number of islands, protecting them with rock revetments and making development possible.
DT: In 2017, MTCC bought new dredging vessel Mahaa Jarraafu. What are your impressions about this dredger and are there any new investments coming up?
Mr. Hassan Shah: Since our inception, we are involved in projects that enable national development. Dredging and reclamation, which is one of the company’s core activities was started in 1985, with just a few excavators.
Presently, the addition of the 3700-cubic meter hopper dredger (TSHD) Mahaa Jarraafu to the existing fleet of IHC 1800 and 1600 cutter suction dredgers has increased timely project execution, with dredging depths up to 50 meters.
With the purchase of the Mahaa Jarraafu, the Maldives can also evolve to become a regional player in dredging and reclamation.
DT: Over the years, MTCC carried out numerous land reclamation and harbor development project in the Maldives, can you name some of the most important ones?
Mr. Hassan Shah: Some of our noteworthy projects are airport reclamation at H. Dh. Kulhudhuffushi, Sh. Funadhoo and Ha. Hoarafushi; the industrial zone reclamation at K. Thilafushi; and land reclamation at K. Hura.
We have also carried out reclamation at K. Kagi and K. Maavaru lagoons as private projects, which are a part of tourism property development.
DT: Were there any challenges during the execution of these projects?
Mr. Hassan Shah: Some significant challenges are proposed reclamation area can have constant erosion due to being too close to the wave; break and high current.
Also, proper shore protection needs to be implemented while or immediately after reclamation. Further, proposed reclamation area can be too far inside the atoll, resulting in longer pumping cycles, reducing the efficiency of the project, and proposed borrow area can be too far away from reclamation area, resulting in longer pumping cycles, reducing the efficiency of the project.
Additionally, with project sites in remote and environmentally significant locations, environmental impact assessment is key.
MTCC has to import all materials required for project execution. Basic facilities such as temporary accommodation, jetties needed to be built, and various equipment mobilized over long distances.
DT: Being an island nation with limited space and resources, you will probably continue with the implementation of dredging and land reclamation techniques for your future development projects. What can we expect over the next five years and can you name some of the most important projects on the horizon?
Mr. Hassan Shah: Our performance at a segmental level shows we have scope for growth and further improvement. We are confident about the road ahead, given the exciting PSIP budget of the government for this year 2019.
Our volume of awards this year is also higher than in 2018, and we intend to further expand into offshore activities and tourism development projects.
Winning the iconic H. Dh. Kulhudhuffushi reclamation project (our first reclamation using the Mahaa Jarraafu) is particularly noteworthy.