More than 300,000 return journeys have been made on the country’s new transport network, President Nasheed said today.
The President noted that the government has met its target of setting up a basic transport network within two years.
The new transport network comprises of a mix of ferries and launches, which now reach every inhabited island in the country. In Addu atoll, a new bus service also operates along the link road between Hithadhoo and Gan.
According to official statistics released today, a total of 360, 688 return journeys have been made across the transport network since it was established.
Setting up a public transport system was one of President Nasheed’s main election pledges during the October 2008 elections.
The President said that the government was on track to meet its pledge of establishing a much larger and more comprehensive transport network, including hundreds of extra services, by 2015.
Government officials point out that a public transport system is vital for fostering economic growth, regional development and social cohesion and say that the transport network has been one of the government’s major successes.
Fares on the transport network typically cost just Rf.15 for a short, one-way trip to a nearby island. Prior to the creation of the network, people were forced to hire launches - at exorbitant prices of hundreds of dollars per day - to visit relatives or ferry loved ones to hospital in neighbouring islands.
President Nasheed said the mobility of people, goods and services was central to the Maldives’ overall national development. He added that people have begun to see the benefits of the transport system, which has enabled them to easily and cheaply access public services available in nearby islands.
Earlier today, the government also signed a joint venture agreement to develop, upgrade and operate Gan International Airport in Addu atoll.
Speaking at a press conference this morning, Transport Minister Adil Saleem said the upgraded airport will benefit the whole country because it will bring in more tourists and more money, which will create new investments, business opportunities and jobs.