WORK on the Kukum Highway Upgrading Project is expected to start late next year.
That’s according to Dr Nobuyuki Tsuneoka, senior adviser to Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is managing the project.
Japan is funding the multi-million dollar road project, which will see the upgrading of the three kilometre road from Honiara City Council to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources head office at Kukum.
Dr Tsuneoka and his team on Wednesday presented a basic design of the road project to stakeholders in Honiara.
This was the second stakeholder meeting they organised for representatives in Honiara to discuss and comment on the project design.
He said his team will be meeting again with engineers from the Ministry of Infrastructure Development this week to finalise the design before submitting it to the Japanese cabinet for funding approval in October.
“We are hoping that we will be back in Honiara November this year to sign an agreement for the project with the Solomon Islands Government,” he said.
Dr Tsuneoko explained that after the signing of the agreement, they will appoint an engineer to finalise the detailed design of the project before it is put to public tender.
“The tender process will take between two to three months during which time we will select the contractor to build the road.
“If all goes according to our plan, the appointed contractor should start work on the project around August or September next year,” he said.
Dr Tsuneoko said construction work should take up to two and half years.
Besides the reconstruction of the three kilometre road from the city council to Kukum, the council round-about will also be redesigned and upgraded from the existing two lanes to three.
Also, the two-lane Matanikobridge will be turned into four, while the one-lane bridge, which was destroyed during the April 4 flash floods, will be turned into a two-lane facility.
The Honiara Market bus stops will also be upgraded, with the construction of two-lane bus bays.
The project will also see the upgrading and improvement of the Vura junction to cater for the increasing heavy traffic in the area.
The Kukum highway upgrading project was aimed at alleviating the current road congestion Honiara is experiencing.
Dr Tsuneoko said Japan wanted to see the Kukum highway upgrading project its most “symbolic” project in Solomon Islands.
The project, according to local engineers, when completed will not only alleviate the city’s traffic congestion, but will also transform the face of Honiara.
Stakeholder reps attending yesterday’s meeting were impressed with the project’s design and have thanked Japan for agreeing to fund this mega project.
The total cost of the project will be determined after the detailed design is finalised.
Meanwhile, work on the US$26 million sea-port project, also funded by Japan, will start in October.
The project will see the construction of a 200-metre long wharf at Honiara’s international port that would cate for big overseas ships.
Dr Tsuneoko said they are in the process of appointing a contractor.
By OFANI EREMAE