China-contracted housing project benefits the Maldivians
Maldivian film director Ahmed Sajid is filming a documentary about the Belt and Road Initiative in his home country.
He says many of the locals are pleased with the residential construction projects being contracted to Chinese firms.
"During the filming of the documentary, we interviewed a lot of locals as well. We found out a lot about what they feel from their hearts, they really appreciate what has already been done by the Chinese government, what the Chinese government is doing, and how they are enriching lives in Maldives through housing projects," says Sajid.
The housing project being mentioned is said to be the biggest public housing project in the Maldives' history.
Construction work is now underway on 7000 affordable houses in Hulhumale Island, with the total construction area covering 451,900 square meters.
State-owned China State Construction Engineering has secured the bid for 434 million U.S. dollars, and will serve as an engineering, procurement and construction contractor.
"The government-subsidized housing project is significant in terms of addressing the young people's housing needs. The Maldivian people have been longing for access to a place they can call home," says Chinese ambassador to the Maldives Zhang Lizhong.
Wang Zhouya, general manager of China State Construction Engineering's branch in the Maldives, says a series of challenges have to be overcome.
"All construction materials, as well as equipment and staff members, are transported from either China or a third country. This has made the organization work of the project much tougher. Besides, all the apartment buildings are 25-story ones, the highest in the Maldives. To achieve this, cement fly-ash gravel pile composite foundation is applied," says Wang.
The apartments will be built using Chinese standards, but designed with local requirements in mind.
Environmental protection is also highlighted in the housing designs to protect the local geological conditions.
Ahmed Nasif, general manager from a housing development firm based in the Maldivies, says the quality of the houses is being closely monitored.
"In terms of monitoring, of course, we do have a project monitoring unit to ensure that these production standards are maintained, and definitely, I think it is very, very important that we are able to compliment the Chinese contractors," says Nasif.
Ali Shameem, President of Maldives Civil Service Commission, says the project shows how the Belt and Road Initiative benefits the Maldivian people.
"This (the Belt and Road Initiative) is for the world benefit, so I think, in recent time, it's (China) going to be a very great leader who brings positive change to the world, especially giving help for developing countries," says Shameem.
The Maldives has an increasing population, but little housing development.
To remedy this, the Chinese government signed a deal with the Maldivian government in 2008 to build 4000 houses in the Maldives.
1000 of those units were completed in 2013, while construction of another 1500 began in 2014.