WORK on the second phase of Munda International airport in the Western Province is set to resume in coming months.
The green light to commence the second phase came on after the Voramali tribal leaders received the remaining $1.2 million of goodwill payment from the government in Honiara yesterday to allow the New Zealand contractor to collect gravel from their site.
It payment was accompanied with a signed deed of settlement agreement to prevent the government from liability on gravel with the landowners.
The money was part of the $1.8 million cabinet had approved when the dispute arose in 2013, which halted the progress of the work.
The government had already paid $600,000 to the landowners as part of the goodwill payment.
The government stood the chance of losing $20 million for breaching the agreement if the dispute was not amicably resolved with the resource owners.
However, secretary of the tribe, Eddie Daga assured the government that they will now support the government in the second phase of the project.
Ministry of Communication and Aviation permanent secretary, Francis Lomo said the payment is important for the future of the Munda airport because the second phase has already been tendered by the New Zealand Government as the funder.
Mr Lomo said the successful settlement demonstrated the Government’s interest in working in partnership with resource owners for the sake of boosting the tourism sector and the overall economy of the country.
Minister Commins Mewa had apologised for the delay of the payment but thanked the landowners for their patience and commitment.
The NZ contractor had already completed the run way of the airport under the first phase.
Under phase two, the contractor will erect a perimeter fence; install runway lights and navigational aids and service facilities like fire trucks and buildings.
By EDDIE OSIFELO