In the South of India and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean lies the archipelago of the Maldives. Comprising 26 natural atolls, surrounded by crystal-clear water with a spectacular marine underwater life, the country is a popular destination with tourists from all over the world.
Tourism is also the sector that contributes by far the most to the Maldivian economy, followed by fishing. Almost entirely depending on these two activities, the Maldivian economy is very vulnerable. The country is also dealing with a significant growth of the population, which may result in higher levels of unemployment. For this reason, the government has chosen a strategy of development, based on both strengthening the tourism sector as well as diversifying to other sectors.
An example of the latter is the ambitious iHavan project, named after the atoll Ihavandhippolhu. This project comprises the development of an airport, a harbour, bunkering services, real estate, shopping malls and resorts. The aim is to make the Maldives a trade centre for international shipping lines travelling from economic hotspots in Eastern Asia to the Middle East, Africa, Europe and vice versa.
Local contribution to reclamation works
As the Maldivian atolls generally offer very limited land surface, projects like iHavan cannot be realised without reclamation works. Up until now, foreign dredging companies have been contracted for the realisation of such projects.
Considering the scale of the work planned in the near future, making use of these companies will remain inevitable. However, the Maldivians have a strong desire to make their own contribution to the realisation of these projects. Such a contribution, albeit modest, would constitute a significant step in the development of the country’s maritime construction industry and help in relieving the unemployment threat. A major role in the development of the infrastructure and transport service in the Maldives is played by the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC), which was incorporated in 1980 as the first public company in the country.
No prior experiences with hopper dredgers
MTCC already has a dredging fleet consisting of cutter suction dredgers. With regard to a new TSHD for the company, the choice soon fell on an Easydredge® 3700. In addition, the option of a high-quality TSHD from a standard range was considered as an advantage by the company, which had no prior experiences with a hopper dredger.
MTCC has named its new dredger MAHAA JARRAAFU, which roughly translates as ‘Big Dredger’. The MAHAA JARRAAFU is a good example of the fact that the Easydredge® offers customisation possibilities that meet the client’s specific needs despite being part of a standard range.
Due to the large depth of the sand borrow areas – more or less 50 metres – the MAHAA JARRAAFU needed to be equipped with a longer suction pipe than the standard version. In its standard configuration, the Easydredge® 3700 has a maximum dredging depth of 25 metres, but equipped with the customised trailing suction installation (which includes a submersible dredge pump) it can easily reach 50 metres.
Ready for a long and successful career in dredging and reclamation, MTCC’s new dredger was handed over on 2 October 2017. MTCC already expects the MAHAA JARRAAFU to be fully occupied for the next two years.