JAPAN will provide an additional SBD of $26.5 million to fill the financial gap brought about by the delay in the commencement of the Honiara International Airport improvement project.
The Japanese Government through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is providing the fund.
However, due to eight months delay in starting the project further funds are required.
Therefore, formalities of this financial support will be sealed this week, His Excellency Morimoto Yasuhiro, Ambassador of Japan to the Solomon Islands highlighted this on Friday.
He was speaking on the occasion of the first progressive site visit by a high-level delegation led by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
The project ‘The Improvement of Honiara International Airport,’ is now in its foundation stages.
“As you are aware, the project was affected by the pandemic and has delayed the construction phase of this project from November 2019 until the end of last year when it actually started.
“To fill the financial gap which occurred during this period, the government of Japan is providing further assistance of three hundred and sixty-five million Japanese yen (SBD$26.5m) said Ambassador Morimoto.
To seal the deal, a formal ceremony for the exchange of notes between the Japanese and Solomon Islands Government will be held this week.
“To formalise the assistance, the exchange of notes will be signed next week (this week) between the two governments.
“With this additional funding the project cost now starts at Japanese Yen of 4, 729,000,00 (SBD347million),” he said.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Morimoto said Friday’s visit was a reminder to everyone that despite the ongoing impact of COVID-19 pandemic; “we can still adapt in our collaboration to move forward with our development assistance and plans.
“Despite the pandemic, we are glad to witness the good progress of the construction work as well as how our contractors work together with Solomon Islands counterparts.”
He said Honiara international airport is a historical site and very special Japanese.
“However, it is not the reason, but the government of Japan has been engaged in the development of the Honiara International Airport in the past and will continue to collaborate with the government of Solomon Islands to improve this historical and very important infrastructure,” he said.
Ambassador Morimoto said the assistance can contribute to improve the airport safety and accommodate future aviation demand by upgrading the airport and related facilities.
He thanked the two countries for the collaboration.
“The project will have a direct impact on the development of Solomon Islands through enhancing connectivity with the country, region a the world.
“I’m also confident that this important infrastructure will allow Honiara airport to become a competitive airport in the region based on its location and its upgraded statues with the new facilities.
“I am confident that this project will be delivered well ahead of the Pacific Games in 2023.
“And with the improvements, Solomon Islands will be able to manage the increased arrivals and departures during the games,” he said.
He expressed that Japan is pleased to cooperate with the government of Solomon islands on such a strategically important infrastructure project in the planning and building a core economic hub of the country.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said the upgrade of the country’s main international airport will make Honiara International Airport a key regional hub that will be able to accommodate more flights with greater efficiency and safety for the travelling public.
“It will make the Honiara International Airport one of the best destinations in our Islands region – something that we all aspire to see in our country,” he said.
Minister of Communication and Aviation Peter Shanel Agovaka said the planned ground-creaking ceremony for this project didn’t take place early in 2020 due to COVID-19 which has resulted in the project being suspended for 8 months.
He said the project recommenced in early 2021 and again difficult to arrange a ground-breaking ceremony due to many reasons, but construction had progressed.
Minister Agovaka said the progress of the project is a very important moment for all Honiara people – other residents and business houses.
He then expressed his sincere appreciation to the People of Japan which through JICA see it fit to take up this project through grant assistance and culminating in the award of consulting and construction contracts to The Consortium of Gyros Corporation, EHIRA Architects and Engineers, Inc. and Oriental Consultants Global Co., Ltd, and Kitano Construction Corporation respectively.
The Minister said Japan and JICA aren’t new to the Honiara airport.
“All have a historical association with Solomon Islands and especially Honiara Airport both in war and peacetime starting with cementing our diplomatic relations in 1978.
“The current Honiara International Airport was amongst the many transport sector projects funded with grant assistance from the government of Japan and mainly implemented by MID and MCA,” he said.
During the progressive site visit, guests were able to see work that is going on at the new terminal complex, the apron where the jets will park, and a new additional taxiway.
The additional apron will cater for about four A320 airbuses at one time while the current terminal will cater for six air-crafts servicing the domestic routes.
By MOFFAT MAMU