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WORK on Solomon Islands Ports Authority’s (SIPA’s) 12-storey building – the nation’s tallest – is set to be delayed further because the Board has decided to award the design contract to a Singaporean firm.
Design for the building, to be constructed on the prime site opposite the Solomon Islands’ National Provident Funding building at Point Cruz, has been completed by a Papua New Guinea firm.
It is understood that although the firm is based in PNG, it is actually an Australian firm with Australian, Papua New Guinean and UK engineers.
Insiders said a Board member who had expressed some doubts about the initial design for the 12-storey building last year visited Port Moresby where he was shown the work that the PNG-based firm had put into the project, whose cost has not been disclosed.
In Port Moresby the SIPA Board member was taken on a guided tour of all the tall buildings in PNG’s capital where this particular firm had designed.
Engineers had even pointed out to the SIPA Board member that the PNG firm had done some engineering and design work for the tallest building in Dubai in the Middle East.
“The firm has an impressive credential,” one insider said.
However, unbeknown to the SIPA management the Board decided late last year to award a Singaporean firm a new contract for the project, believing that the new contractor would move things a lot faster.
“Two things have now happened,” the insider said.
“First, that decision to switch design contractors alone will cost SIPA SBD$5 million. In addition, SIPA will have to find the money to pay the cost in variations of the new design which is inevitable,” the insider added.
“The second is that the construction which was due to start this year will now be further delayed because the new contractor has to do its own design which must be approved before construction can begin.
“It’s a costly decision, which the initial management was against.”
An amphitheatre, handicraft shops intended for tourists and a public car park were included in the initial design.
“Now it is not clear whether these amenities would be included in the new design being completed.
“That’s one aspect. The other of course is where the money would come from for the construction of the new high rise,” the insider said.