If there is one country in the world that could live without cars and motorbikes, it’s probably the Maldives. In a nation that is 99 percent water, with most islands less than 0.5 square kilometres, they’re like fish out of water (though fish out of water have traditionally been the country’s main source of income).
Still rare in many islands, around 75 percent of the country’s 68,000 registered vehicles* are in the 6 square kilometres of Male’, crawling in frustration around the capital – dreaming of what 15mph feels like.
However, the 5,600 or so vehicles lucky enough to reside in Addu have enjoyed access to the longest road in the country since 2003. The 13km Addu Link Road runs from the atoll capital HIthadhoo, down to the airport island of Gan, sweeping along the lagoon through the inhabited islands of Maradhoo and Feydhoo.
Unfortunately, local road safety culture is yet to catch up with the traffic speeding along the link road, which has become a notorious accident blackspot, claiming the lives of half a dozen Adduans in 2015 alone.
The Addu link road will soon lose its crown as the nation’s longest, with the Chinese-built Laamu link road awaiting government approval after its recent completion.
Once it opens, this 15km link road will bring the unique Maldivian experience of driving for more than ten minutes in a straight line to a second atoll. Let’s hope the guidelines for the Laamu highway ensure that road safety doesn’t go round in circles.
*last figures taken in 2014