Port Vila, 30th June, 2017 – A new community-based infrastructure project was launched at Ohlen Nabanga on 30th June by a delegation including the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Ralph Regenvanu, the Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Jenny Da Rin, the Deputy Lady Mayor of Port Vila Ms Leimara Malachi, as well as Nancy Wells from the Asian Development Bank.
Minister for Public Utilities Jay Ngwele signed this week the contract for the repair of two of the country’s most significant wharf infrastructures in Lenakel on Tanna and Litzlitz on Malekula which both come under Vanuatu Inter-Island Shipping Support Project (VISSP). Read More
If there is any particular VPMU project that suffered most from the global pandemic it would have to be the Vanuatu Energy Access Project (VEAP), funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Strategic Climate Fund and the Vanuatu Government, at a total cost of well over Vt1 billion.
This project was supposed to have commenced construction in mid-2020 but plans were derailed as a result of international border restrictions, brought about by the COVID-19 global pandemic. It meant contractors have had to stay put in New Zealand after signing the contract in early 2020.
This is a project that is bound to greatly benefit the people of Malekula by providing affordable electrical hydro power to households and helping people within the North-West Malekula in and around Brenwe and from Unmet to Leviamp; even down to Laravet in North-West Malekula, to improve their livelihoods.
A civil works contract was signed just as the curtain on the last legislature was drawing to a close in January 2020, and Vanuatu was gearing towards the March 19th 2020 elections. The Government put pen to paper on 21st January 2020 when Minister Bruno Leingkone, who was (and is) also responsible for energy matters signed the contract with MAP/Vortex representative and Project Manager, Mr. Mark Prater. Works were scheduled to start within the first quarter of 2020 after that signing. This did not eventuate, as the country went into temporary travel restrictions on April 27th 2020.
Following temporary restrictions placed by the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) a State of Emergency (SOE) was later declared for the whole country to ensure the country was kept free of the deadly disease. But then the Government raised some hopes that travel restrictions would be eased in September. VPMU took its cue from the assurance and proceeded to make preparations for the contractors to enter the country by November. This never came about as the State of Emergency (SOE) was extended further beyond September and into Christmas.
It has to be noted that by September, it still was not clear if VPMU contractors could come under any of the category of persons allowed to enter the country. Priority was being given by the Government to Vanuatu citizens and residents wanting to be repatriated from overseas.
Thanks to the Government, through Council of Ministers for recognising the need to balance the economic needs of the country to keep the oils of the economy running; while at the same time keeping vigilant as regards health and safety and COVID-19, a decision was made for the contractors to come under special category visas for project related travels.
Since then, negotiations with relevant authorities – not least the COVID-19 taskforce team and the department of immigration and the NDMO, necessary approvals were obtained for MAP/Vortex personnel to enter the country in November. In the end, it wasn’t to be. While it was right on the verge of the beginning of the country’s cyclone season, the contractors decided to arrange their arrival in March 2021, to allow time for cyclone season to at least be on the wane.
To state that the global pandemic was a major setback to VPMU projects, especially VEAP would be a gross understatement. Like many other government departments and agencies, including businesses, VEAP stakeholders, especially the people of Malekula and the government have had to put up with almost 10 months of uncertainty and constant to-and-froing between VPMU and the contractors.
“We are just so grateful for the assistance VPMU has been offered by the Government through the Council of Ministers, which has resulted in the granting of key approvals to allow for the arrival of the first team from MAP/Vortex,” says Program Director, Anna Salwai Tavoasese.
Bidding for South Paray Domestic wharf is set to kick off next month, with construction expected to begin in the third quarter of this year 2021. The construction of the new South Paray Domestic Shipping Terminal, as part of the Vanuatu Inter-island Shipping Support Project (VISSP), was brought to a halt in 2018 when independent investigations, instigated by the Government and its development partners, identified design concerns and the requirement for more detailed site investigations. Click here for more
Designs for Lenakel and Litzlitz wharves have been finalized while bid submissions from contractors for the repair works closed on 4th of March 2021.
Following evaluation of the bids and award of this contract, construction is anticipated to commence in late April 2021.
This work is being included in Stage One of the next phase of Vanuatu Inter-Island Shipping Support Project (VISSP) which includes South Paray recommencement.
This stage of works will be completed by 2023 if VPMU and partners can overcome logistical and financial challenges presented by COVID-19.
In addition, site investigations for Simonsen and Port Sandwich have been completed and design works are well underway. Civil works for these two wharf infrastructures are scheduled to come on in Stage Two of VISSP.
Meanwhile, planning for new facilities at four other locations is also under consideration.