(MENAFN - NewsIn.Asia) by Zhu Ruiqing and Tang Lu
MALE, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) — With a long queue of brand-new buses rolling onto the brightly lit China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, the Maldives' long-term dream to have a cross-sea bridge eventually came true. Amid the presence of thousands of Maldivians, the bridge opened to traffic on Thursday evening.
The bridge is an iconic project of the Maldives and China in co-building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The 2-km bridge connects capital Male and neighboring Hulhule island where the Maldives' main international airport is located. The bridge has made it possible for locals and tourists to transit between the two islands on land within five minutes.
Since the bridge project kicked off at the end of 2015, watching its construction on the beaches of Male had become a daily routine for many locals.
Same as usual, 26-year-old Maldivian national Amila decided to have a look at the bridge after work, just hours before it officially opened to traffic.
Amila said "At first, many people including me didn't believe building a bridge here is possible. However, day after day, we witnessed the bridge being constructed little by little. Today, the operation of the bridge is just around the corner."
"The impossible has become possible in my country," Amila said, adding "I believe the bridge will lead to a brighter future of the Maldives."
China Maldives Friendship Bridge lit up by breath taking fireworks Photo Tang Lu
Many youths here in the Maldives shared the same view as Amila's over the new bridge. Just as what Midhuam Saud, vice president of the Maldives China Trade and Cultural Organization, said "There will be several benefits from the bridge, but I believe the most important one is the hope for the youth."
"The Maldives never witnessed such a mega infrastructure project. Now that it is complete, every Maldivian youth who crosses it will learn to dream of bigger and better projects. We can now think of having a Maldivian Dream," Midhuam told Xinhua.
The China-Maldives Friendship Bridge looks like a carrying pole with Male and Hulhule island on either side. However, the bridge not only serves for passenger traffic between the two islands, but also pushes forward the development of the habitation circle around capital Male.
Today, 1.5-square-km Male is crowded with 100,000 habitants. The Maldivian government has established housing projects on the Hulhumale island, adjoining to the Hulhule island, to solve the housing concerns of these residents.
Midhuam said the bridge connectivity also made Hulhumale housing projects feasible. The bridge is indeed the first and most important brick for a permanent solution for housing issues in Male region.
The China-Maldives Friendship Bridge makes the life of Maldivians more convenient and simpler. As for the Chinese constructors whose tireless efforts have made the Maldives' bridge dream a reality. They will now set out on a new journey starting from the bridge, along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, to other countries where their assistance is required.
The white sand and clear blue sky of the Maldives have always give an ideal impression of romance. However, for the Chinese constructors involved in building the bridge, the experience was far from romantic.
The China-Maldives friendship bridge is 2 km long and connects Maldivian capital Male with the nearby island of Hulumale
Constructing a bridge in the sea as deep as 46 meters, with a high temperature, high humidity and high levels of ultraviolet radiation was not an easy task. The Chinese constructors decided to go on with the task regardless and made it eventually.
Chief engineer from the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge Project Cheng Duoyun told Xinhua that in the 33 months of construction, the project had achieved a number of key technical breakthroughs and had pioneered the construction of large bridges under deep, exposed ocean environment with a coral reef geology.
"The success of the bridge has also prepared us for similar projects in building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in the future," Cheng said.
It was already past 10 o'clock at night when the opening ceremony of the bridge ended on Thursday. However, many Maldivians were still hanging around the entrance of the bridge, clicking pictures and singing songs.
The day was about to be over. However, just like Maldivian media "Avas"said in a report "August 30 will be written in Maldivian history as a remarkable day".
(The featured image at the top shows the stylized entrance to the 2 km long China-Maldives Friendship Bridge: Photo: Tang Lu)