The country’s multi-million dollar international seaport dubbed a ‘Wonderful gift’ was officially unveiled in Honiara yesterday.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare officiated in the ceremony which was also graced by the presence of the Minister for Infrastructure Development, Hon Jimmy Lusibaea, the Japanese Ambassador to Solomon Islands, His Excellency Kenichi Kimiya and other top officials.
Mr Sogavare who was all smiles yesterday labelled the seaport facility worth about $190million as a ‘Wonderful gift from the Government and People of Japan to the People of Solomon Islands.’
The new international wharf was constructed under the Japanese Government-funded project for Improvement of Honiara Port Facilities.
The ground-breaking ceremony for this project was also officiated by the Prime Minister and Ambassador Kimiya last year.
It took just over a year to get the project done.
Speaking guest of honour, Mr Sogavare said this ‘Wonderful gift from the Government and People of Japan to the People of Solomon Islands’ is one more addition to the ‘Many more Gifts of Friendship’ which Tokyo has so generously donated to Solomon Islands over the years.
The Prime Minister said the new magnificent piece of infrastructure has changed the seafront in and around the Ports Authority compound, adding that other positive changes are expected to happen as a result of this new international wharf facility.
“It is an investment in a strategic sector. It will be a real boost to one aspect of economic activities in the sea transportation sector by stimulating the efficiency of commercial operations and thus reduce wharfage-related costs. The new international wharf will enable more vessels with business consignments to berth securely and enable quick-turn-around time for vessels to berth and load or unload consignments.
“As such, one would expect that the savings through improved wharfage cost can be passed on to importers and exporters and commercial operators who transport consignments by sea.
“The new wharf will also reduce the congestion experienced at the old wharf site and show allow for freer movement of small vessels around the old wharf site.
“From the Government’s perspective, this new international wharf will create more employment for Solomon Islanders and also introduce new skills to the Ports Authority Work Force,” Prime Minister Sogavare elaborated.
The Prime Minister said he is also pleased to learn that JICA-funded projects including the new wharf facility are designed to withstand the effects of climate change.
“Solomon Islands as an island nation is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and I am very pleased indeed to learn that this new international wharf has been constructed with climate change proof designs to sustain the effects of climate change.”
Mr Sogavare also used the opportunity to laud Japan’s assistance to Solomon Islands over the years since.
“Japan’s development assistance to Solomon Islands constitutes a significant portion of development aid the country receives from donor countries and organisations.
“Over the past 38 years since we established diplomatic ties with Japan, Solomon Islanders’ lives have been touched by the generosity of Government and People of Japan through their technical and development assistance programme, addressing areas of direct benefit to our rural and isolated communities.”
Some key Japanese Government-funded projects that touched the lives of ordinary Solomon Islanders which Sogavare highlighted at the occasion are as follows:
- Establishment and operation of Provincial Fisheries Centre, some of which are now operating under private ownership;
- Community disease preventive and curative research and training under Japan’s Volunteer Scheme with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services;
- Construction of the Honiara Public Market building;
- Construction of bridges in East Guadalcanal;
- Upgrade of the Honiara International Airport Apron and Plane Taxiway;
- Construction of the Honiara International Airport Terminal Building;
- Provision of Grant Aid to assist with rapid transfer of disaster information from communities to the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) through the establishment and maintenance of information broadcast network. This project is implemented under the NDMO Disaster Risk Management Programme;
- Deployment of Japanese volunteers and advisors to Solomon Islands to provide technical information and advise in tackling solid waste management through Japanese Government-funded public awareness programmes and training in waste management systems set up and maintenance; and
- Provision of support for sustainable use of forest resources through community livelihood improvement programme with the Ministry of Forestry and Research.
Two recent major Japanese Government-funded infrastructure projects which the Prime Minister also highlighted at the occasion are the Auki Wharf and Auki Market Building.
“These two projects are major investments costing millions of dollars and the Malaita Provincial Government and People are already reaping huge benefits from them in terms of revenue sources for farmers and the Provincial Government and also business for business houses.”
The Prime Minister said the latest project to be funded by the Japanese Government is the Honiara main road upgrade and Improvement Project which will address all the challenges Honiara residents face daily from the long queues along the Honiara highway.
He said he had to mention the projects funded by the Japanese Government to illustrate the great scope of grant support and technical assistance that the Government and People of Solomon Islands have received under the bilateral development assistance from Japan.
The Prime Minister said to reciprocate the generosity of the Japanese Government and People, past Solomon Islands political Governments have rendered unreserved support to Tokyo through formal expressions of affirmative support at numerous international forums and conventions that address global, regional and national issues of interest and concern to Japan and the Democratic Coalition for Change Government is committed to continue this support.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Kimiya in his speech at the occasion said, “I am very happy to be given a chance to cooperate with the Government of Solomon Islands on such a strategically important project which has direct impact on the development of Solomon Islands.”
He said the Project for Improvement of Honiara Port Facilities aims to expand the port facilities including the construction of this new international wharf and also the construction of a second one (international wharf) so that larger vessels can be docked and shipping works can be done more efficiently.
“I believe that this new Honiara Port will be one of the regional and international hubs of logistics and tourism and it will enhance the connectivity of Solomon Islands with the global economy.
“Such effects will lead to vitalisation of the whole economy of Solomon Islands so that every Solomon Islander will benefit from this project.
Ambassador Kimiya also congratulated the Solomon Islands Government for winning its bid to host the 2023 Pacific Games, adding that with the Japanese Government-funded infrastructure projects in Solomon Islands including the Upgrading of the Kukum Highway and Construction of two new bridges over the Mataniko River, Japan is pleased to contribute to the infrastructure development of Solomon Islands in preparation for the games.
Source: PM’s Press Secretary