China debt dogs Maldives’ ‘bridge to prosperity’

Before the bridge people had to travel to the capital by boat
Before the bridge people had to travel to the capital by boat

For years Aminat Waheeda drove her taxi along the narrow lanes and congested roads of the Maldives capital looking for passengers. The most lucrative fares – airport arrivals – were out of reach.

The airport serving Male is on a different island and a speedboat was needed to get between the two.

In 2018, that all changed, as did Ms Waheeda’s life. And the single mother of two teenagers has China to thank.

A 2.1km (1.3-mile), four-lane bridge built with $200m (£148m) from Beijing means Male’s taxi drivers can now pick up passengers right from the airport entrance.

“After the bridge was built, transportation got easy for everyone,” she says. “[It] has helped taxi drivers like me to earn more money.”

In fact, her income doubled.

Amina Waheeda and other taxi drivers used to be unable to pick up fares at the airport
Amina Waheeda and other taxi drivers used to be unable to pick
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