Raalhugandu: the only surf spot in the region | Photo: Richard Kotch

A group of Maldivian surfers was arrested after protesting against the construction of a bridge that will connect the island of Malé to the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport and will destroy the local surf break.

Eleven protesters were taken into custody after swimming towards a tugboat anchored off Raalhugandu.

The authorities say that one surfer - Ahmed Aznil - was accused of obstructing police duty. Ahmed is the president of the Maldives Surfing Association.

The surfers and bodyboarders say that they are only against the new infrastructure because it will shut down the only surf spot in the region.

The new bridge will end surfing in Raalhugandu, as well as its three breaks; the majority of the remaining surf spots are reserved for surf tourists.

"The surfers are worried that the government has not provided reassuring documents that show that the waves of Raalhugandu will not be affected negatively, even though they say that will be the case. Word of mouth is not enough. We need credible evidence," the Maldives Surfing Association (MSA) says in a statement.

Maldivian surfers: saving surf breaks from extinction

"That is what the surfers are protesting about. To get the promised documents that show that the waves of Raalhugandu are not going to be destroyed. The protests are not about throwing the bridge project out the window."

The MSA also underlines that two riders were arrested for surfing in a spot that is now closed and that nobody had told them that they would not be able to surf there during the bridge construction works.

The bodyboarders are with MSA in the protests.

"We've no issue with building the bridge. Our only concern is that the project has blocked the source of income for many people and deprived several others from the opportunity of learning how to surf," Abdulla Areef, president of the Maldives Bodyboarding Association, told Haveeru.

The Maldivian surfing community will continue their protests at Raalhugandu. The infrastructure will be concluded in 30 months, and it will cost 300 million dollars.

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