CMEC offers helping hand to ease housing crunch in Maldives

Release time:2020-07-10 Article source: Reading times: Text size:【A+AA-

The Maldives, a popular tourist destination, is facing a severe housing shortage due to its limited space and growing population.

Helping solve the problem is China Machinery Engineering Co Ltd, or CMEC, a Beijing-based State-owned enterprise specializing in engineering contracting business, after the SOE completed construction on a third-phase housing project involving 1,530 apartments on Hulhumale Island in late June.

Hulhumale is the second largest island in the Maldives. It takes more than 10 minutes to reach by boat from the Maldives' capital, Male. Hulhumale, with an area of 2 square kilometers, was reclaimed from the sea in 1997.

As a satellite island, Hulhumale has directly relieved the long-term overpopulation pressure of Male-the most densely packed capital in the world. Hulhumale has about 150,000 people on its 1.87 sq km of land, accounting for one-third of the Maldives' population.

Because the Maldives declared a state of emergency to minimize the impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing project had been temporarily suspended and all workers had to take training to prevent infections earlier this year, said Qian Haojun, deputy general manager of CMEC's second complete plants division.

Qian said the company resumed operations in early May after formulating emergency response plans and undergoing weeks of preparations. To prevent infections, all employees must wear surgical masks while working on its construction sites.

CMEC to date has completed construction of the housing project in three phases, with a total of 3,844 units and a construction area of more than 360,000 square meters, said Qian, adding that it is one of the key livelihood projects of the Maldives' government.

The first and second phases of the housing projects built by CMEC were successfully delivered to its owner-the Maldives government-in 2012 and 2017, respectively.

After all the third-phase projects are completed, they will solve the housing headaches of more than 30,000 locals, or 10 percent of the Maldives' residents, and will directly improve the crowded housing conditions in the country, particularly in the capital.

Qian said the company's housing construction work has brought business opportunities to more than 40 local construction contractors, material and daily necessities suppliers, as well as job opportunities for nearly 1,000 locals.

Because of the hot and humid climate, insufficient vegetable and fruit supplies, expensive living costs and homesickness, Qian described the Maldives as a paradise for tourists but a difficult place for his company's construction workers who nearly all come from China. However, it comforted him and compatriot colleagues when they saw locals move into the new homes CMEC had built for them.

In addition to creating new jobs for locals, these housing projects will also generate fresh momentum for hundreds of local shops as well as small and medium-sized enterprises to create a new integrated economic model for local infrastructure, commercial services and tourism, said Wei Xiaoquan, a researcher specializing in regional economic development at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Chinese companies, with their mature experiences and expertise in building big-ticket infrastructure projects, have become tangible growth drivers of the Belt and Road Initiative, Wei said.

Thanks to a string of measures taken to minimize the coronavirus impact, cooperation projects related to the BRI are generally running smoothly with no major delays in the first five months of 2020, said the Ministry of Commerce.

With more than three decades of experience in the engineering industry, CMEC-also a subsidiary of China National Machinery Industry Corp, a centrally administrated SOE-has developed the capacity to provide one-stop, customized, complete plant solutions spanning preliminary planning, EPC (engineering, procurement, construction), financing, operation and maintenance.

It has expanded its business presence to 47 countries and regions in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America, forming a project contracting network with electric power at its core and also covering transportation, telecommunications, waterworks, building materials and cement businesses.