SO the World Bank has approved an additional US$1.5 million (SBD$11.9 million) to extend the Rapid Employment Project (REP) until December 2016.
The bank announced this great news on Tuesday.
It’s great news because REP is a project that has made significant difference to lives of many ordinary Solomon Islanders on the outskirts of Honiara.
Under the project, many concrete footpaths were built to connect communities to the main roads in Honiara, making it easier for women and children to walk back and forth.
Under the project too, many jobs were created for mostly unemployed youths and women around the city.
Data have shown that since 2010, REP has generated short-term employment through labor-based public works, including road repairs and maintenance, footpath repairs and construction, and garbage collection.
More than US$2 million (SBD$15.9 million) has been paid in wages and 600,000 days in labour have been created for more than 9,700 people – half of whom are women and youth.
That’s beside REP’s pre-employment training program offered to 11,000 people from vulnerable communities to attain basic skills for employment.
Furthermore, Honiara’s image would have been far more worse had it not been for REP. Through the project, various community groups were engaged to do daily garbage collection along the streets of Honiara.
This ensures litters were quickly removed from the streets at the end of the day.
The project was scheduled to end by this year.
But with the additional funding, it will continue until December next year.
According to the World Bank, with the additional financing, REP will improve road access in flood-affected zones in and around Honiara, to give those most in-need easier access to essential services and markets.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Moses Virivolomo, explained the project will develop two kilometers of climate resilient roads, with a further four kilometers of maintenance and spot improvements.
In addition to improving transport access, he said climate resilient roads will result in lower maintenance costs for road repairs, faster travel and lower vehicle operational costs.
If anything, REP is a model project that should be maintained and emulated in other urban centres across the country.
This is the kind of project this nation needs from its donor partners. Because the assistance goes right to the people and they can see and feel the benefits.