President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Sunday afternoon, met with community members of Hanimaadhoo Island in South Thiladhunmathi Atoll, to discuss public opinion on the Hanimaadhoo Airport development project. The meeting took place at the Barefoot Eco Hotel on the island.
At the meeting, President Solih highlighted the benefits of having an international airport on the island; not just for the community of Hanimaadhoo island, but for the entirety of northernmost Boduthiladhunmathi Atoll. He stated that the purpose of meeting with the island community is to listen to their concerns directly, open a dialogue and discuss ways to move forward with the project in a way that would benefit the locals.
The President also clarified certain grievances that were raised regarding the airport development project. He assured that the government would bear all financial responsibilities of the loan required to develop the airport and that its ownership would reside solely with the state. President Solih also reiterated that no foreign soldiers would be stationed at the airport premise, stating that his government would not allow any action that may hinder Maldives’ sovereignty in any way, adding that he does not believe any succeeding government would allow for it either.
The community members who took part in the meeting noted that their main concern was regarding land allotted for the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), and the expansion of the runway. They shared the alterations they wanted to see in the project with the President. In response to the community’s concern, President Solih revealed that the land had been allotted for MNDF to move its entire Northern Command to Hanimaadhoo island, as it would be more convenient to guard the northern territories and the seas of the Maldives from there. Other projects planned for the Boduthiladhunmathi Atoll were also discussed during this meeting.
Before concluding, the community members thanked the President for personally delineating project details and expressed their wishes to see the project through, noting that a large number of the locals are in favour of further developing Hanimadhoo Airport.
The President and the First Lady’s current visit to Hanimaadhoo island is the final leg of a three-island trip to the north of the country. The President and the First Lady previously visited Kulhudhuffushi City and Kumundhoo Island of South Thiladhunmathi Atoll. Cabinet Ministers, along with senior government officials, are accompanying the first couple on this trip.