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Airports and roads in Solomon Islands set for major upgrade

Tens of thousands of Solomon Islanders will benefit from upgrades to key roads and two of the country’s biggest airports under a new project supported by a US$30.5 million credit and a US$20.5 million grant approved today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.

The Solomon Islands Roads and Aviation Project will finance critical new aviation infrastructure at Honiara International Airport in Guadalcanal Province and Munda Airport in Western Province, as well as an upgrade and maintenance of the entire main road network in Malaita Province.

“Safe, secure and well-maintained airports and roads are essential to the economic and social development of Solomon Islands,” said Hon. Manasseh Sogavare, Solomon Islands’ Care-Taker Minister for Finance and Treasury. “This significant investment from the World Bank into the country’s infrastructure will be vital to Solomon Islands’ economic development.”

The project’s aviation investment includes new communications and navigation equipment, including updated runway overlays, at both Honiara and Munda airports; as well as new airfield lighting, automatic weather observation systems, together with a new fire rescue vehicle station at Honiara, the country’s key international airport. Works at Munda Airport will include construction of a new terminal building, cargo facilities with an integrated flight service tower, and installation of navigation and communication equipment.

The project’s road component will see a significant upgrading and maintenance of the 232-kilometer main road network in Malaita to improve climate resilience, including resealing of the Province’s existing 17 kilometers of sealed roads, the upgrade of four bridges, improvement of key vulnerable spots, improved safety, together with multi-year grading, resurfacing, and routine maintenance support. Innovative bridge technologies will also be potentially piloted through this project, aiming to further enhance the sustainability of the network. An estimated 110,000 people live near the planned road works and will see significant benefits including safer and more secure roads, as well as ongoing maintenance work opportunities.

“A major infrastructure commitment such as this is far more than bricks, mortar and bitumen,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “This is an investment in Solomon Islands that will have positive impacts across countless sectors: tourism, education, manufacturing, resources and health; to name but a few. This is the World Bank’s first major transport infrastructure project in Solomon Islands since the mid-1980s, and we are proud to be helping deliver such an important nation-building infrastructure project for Solomon Islanders.”

The project also includes a number of Technical Assistance activities such as airport operational and regulatory training, an aviation sector strategy, and support for asset management systems in the Ministry of Infrastructure Development. The project will also see the establishment of a Ministry of Infrastructure Development office in the Malaita Province capital, Auki.

The project complements Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s ongoing investments to improve Honiara Airport, ensuring the airport meets all the regulatory compliance requirements. It also complements New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT)’s investments at Munda Airport, by ensuring that the airport can cater to international flights.

The aviation component of the Solomon Islands Roads and Aviation Project is the fourth phase of a series of projects implemented under the Pacific Aviation Investment Program that are improving aviation safety and security across the Pacific, including in Kiribati, Tonga, Tuvalu, Samoa, and Vanuatu.

The US$30.5 million credit and the US$20.5 million grant come from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the world’s most in-need countries; and will be complemented by US$3.6 million contribution from the Solomon Islands Government.

© Scoop Media

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