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Tonga Forum Leaders Meeting Accommodation Concern

There are concerns in Tonga whether a housing development planned to provide accommodation for people attending the 53rd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Forum in August will be completed in time.

Work to clear the land at Popua, which is adjacent to the historic Sia Heu Lupe site, has been underway through May.

The government hopes to erect 100 prefabricated houses at the site to provide additional accommodation for those attending the summit.

They will be allocated to the elderly after the event.

"The site preparation, now into its third week, will continue until the end of May, before construction begins in June," according to a report by Matangi Tonga last week.

RNZ Pacific's correspondent in Tonga, Kalafi Moala, said the Forum meeting will put a lot of pressure on Tonga's accommodation facilities.

"All the hotels have been booked and so they have to build the houses, new houses," he said.

"So again officially the word has come out that they have got a location where they are going to build 100 pre-fab houses. I think that's great but you have to order those houses to be pre-fabricated overseas."

Work is also underway on another site near the heart of Nuku'alofa, where more housing is being built.

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But Moala said the issues facing the government also include finding a site to hold the forum meetings.

The Tongan government has appealed to China to hurry the construction of an indoor stadium in Nuku'alofa so it can be used for the meeting.

Moala said the government is also eyeing the new indoor stadium being built near Tonga High School, asking if it could be finished and ready in time for the summit.

"It was supposed to be finished by December so they are going to finish by August.

"I talked to the Chinese officials here they say, 'Yes they can finish it for the Forum but it means that it's going to cost more money, it means they are going to have to bring in more labour from China'."

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