The much awaited Kukum Highway Upgrading Road Project is set to get underway.
This follows a formal ground-breaking ceremony held today morning in Honiara.
The historic occasion also marked the conclusion of the project preparatory phase as it is now entered into its construction stage.
Witnessing the ground breaking ceremony yesterday are; guest speaker Prime Minster Manasseh Sogavare, Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga, Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) Minister Jimmy Lusibaea, Japanese Ambassador to Solomon Islands HE Mr. Kenichi Kimiya, Members of Parliament, heads and members of the diplomatic Corps and senior representatives from private sector organisations.
The approximate SBD$213 million road upgrading project is aimed at alleviating the current road congestion Honiara city is experiencing.
“We arrive at a moment we have been waiting for,” Prime Minister Sogavare said while delivering his key note address during the occasion yesterday.
Mr Sogavare said the occasion marks another important land-mark in the history of infrastructure development in Solomon Islands, in particular our national capital-Honiara.
“This ground breaking ceremony marks the end of the project preparatory phase and the beginning of the construction phase for the Kukum Highway Upgrading Project,” he said.
Mr Sogavare said he is delighted to be part of the very important occasion yesterday.
“The project addresses one of the very high priority transport infrastructures in Solomon Islands because of its importance in connecting the various important services and operations in and outside of Honiara City,” he said.
He stated the basic objectives of the project include: comfortable and safe driving; comfortable and safe pedestrian movement due to improved environment and road facilities; reduced road maintenance costs; and efficient socioeconomic activities as a result of the mitigated traffic congestion.
“…I am aware, that road users in Honiara City are impatiently waiting for the anticipated improvements on the main highway.
“The traffic congestion and the poor road conditions encountered each and every day has been continually blamed for the lateness by most employees in Honiara City and likewise claimed to have affected their productivity and output,” he said.
Mr Sogavare said there is hope now on the horizon with the Kukum Highway Upgrading Project entering into its construction phase to address these many issues.
“And for this, we wish to say a very big thank you to the government and people of Japan for their generous grant assistance for a worthwhile and important project.”
He added the project also marked a very important milestone in our diplomatic relations with the government and people of Japan; a relationship which spans decades since we (Solomon Islands) attained the status of nationhood in 1978.
“Solomon Islands benefited tremendously from that relationship and I would like to assure the government and people of Japan that Solomon Islands is committed to make that relationship meaningful for our long term mutual benefits.”
Mr Sogavare personally used the opportunity and conveys the country’s gratitude to the Prime Minister of Japan and the country’s commitment to strengthen our relation and support the participation of Japan in the pursuance of important global agendas at the margin of the UNGA next week.
He said the highway has become one of the most important infrastructures that have through the years, been supporting economic investments, activities and operations in and around Honiara City as well as further West and East of the City.
Japanese Ambassador to Solomon Islands HE Mr. Kenichi Kimiya said it was his great pleasure that they are finally able to start the construction works.
“This project could become our symbolic token of friendship between Solomon Islands and Japan.
“On behalf of the people and Government of Japan, I am very happy to start this promised project as our symbol of friendship between Japan and Solomon Islands.
“I also would like to remind you that we are able to implement this project thanks to hard works not only by people who have been engaged in the project but also by Japanese taxpayers.
“I believe, the success of this project will further strengthen our friendly bilateral relationship,” he said.
HE Mr Kimiya said the whole project is expected to be completed in the latter half of 2018.
The project is funded by the Japanese Government and it will be managed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Its costs more than SBD$200million.
KITANO and World Kaihatsu Kogyo Co. Ltd Joint Venture were selected as the Contractor under the Contract of Construction made on 26th May 2016 with MID in Tokyo, Japan to build the project.
The Project Components are:
- Upgrading of the Kukum Highway from Honiara City Roundabout to the Ministry of Fisheries;
- Countermeasure against traffic congestion around the Central Market;
- Improvement of the Honiara City Council Roundabout;
- Widening of the Mataniko 2-Lane Bridge;
- Replace Old Mataniko Bailey Bridge with a 2-Lane concrete structure; and
- Soft Component
Meanwhile, the US$26 million sea-port project, also funded by Japan, had been officially handed over to the government recently.
The project includes a 200-metre long wharf at Honiara’s international port that caters for big overseas ships.
By STEPHEN DIISANGO