On Wednesday 4th September 2019, a new roads and aviation project that is set to benefit thousands of Solomon Islanders was launched by the government and donor partners in Honiara.
The Solomon Islands Roads and Aviation Project (SIRAP) will upgrade Malaita’s road network and provide improvements to Honiara International Airport and Munda Airport in Western Province.
The project is financed by a US$30.5 million credit and a US$20.5 million grant by the World Bank, together with US$3.6 million (SB$29 million) from the Solomon Islands government.
The launch of the project represents a significant achievement for Malaita, which will see an upgrade and maintenance to the 232-kilometer main road network. This will include resealing 17 kms of the provinces sealed roads, upgrading four bridges, improving vulnerable spots for better road safety and ensuring increased routine maintenance and support.
“It’s estimated that 110,000 people live near the roads which will be improved – this means thousands of people will benefit from safer, more secure roads along with better access to markets, families, jobs and healthcare. This is an important step towards a more integrated Malaita with greater opportunities,” said Malaita Premier Mr Daniel Suidani.
For aviation support – the launch marks the beginning of works to update runways and improve navigation and communications equipment at Munda and Honiara International Airports. At Honiara International, runway pavement overlay, new airfield lighting, automatic weather systems, and a new fire vehicle station will increase the safety of air travel in and out of the country’s main airport. At Munda airport, works will include a new terminal building, runway pavement overlay, and installation of navigation and communication equipment.
Speaking at the launch, Hon. Harry Kuma, Minister of Finance and Treasury said “more effective air links between provinces and with the rest of the world are important for Solomon Islands to take advantage of tourism opportunities - but airports are also a window to markets, services and jobs throughout the region and around the world. The airport upgrades, along with the road networks present great opportunities for the people and the economy of Solomon Islands.”
Western Province’s Minister of Infrastructure Mr Joseph Gorae also added “We are very excited about the improvements planned for Munda Airport. The new terminal building to be built there will give the tourism industry of the Western Province a huge boost as we are working hard to increase the number of visitors from overseas. This will have a flow on effect of increasing business and employment opportunities all the way through to grass roots level.”
The project will also improve the skills of key staff in Solomon Islands through Technical Assistance activities such as airport operations and regulations training, aviation strategies, and support for climate and disaster resilient transport asset management in the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.
“This is the World Bank’s first major transport infrastructure project in Solomon Islands since the 1980’s and I am very proud to be here to see the launch of such important work for the future of Solomon Islands. For Pacific nations, safer and more reliable air connections and roads are critical, I am grateful that this investment will help deliver positive impacts for tourism, education, employment and health and support lasting improvements for the people of Solomon Islands,” said Guido Rurangwa, the World Bank’s Country Representative for Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
The project complements Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s ongoing investments to improve Honiara Airport, along with New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT)’s investments at Munda Airport, by ensuring that the airport can cater to international flights which will increase tourism potential for Western Province.
SOURCE: SIG AND WORLD BANK MEDIA STATEMENT
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