The Government of Vanuatu has signed a contract with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and its joint venture partner, Northwest Civil Airport Construction Group (NCACG), both Chinese companies, for the rehabilitation of Port Vila’s Bauerfield Airport and associated infrastructure projects.

The Lot 1 contract was signed Friday by the Minister for Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Jotham Napat, representing the Government of Vanuatu, and CCECC and NCACG’s Business Manager, Liang Qing.

And the contract is for strengthening and widening the runway, the airport apron and related infrastructures including lighting.

Minister Napat expressed the Government’s full confidence in the contractors to successfully deliver all aspects of the rehabilitation work, under the World Bank-funded Vanuatu Aviation Investment Project (VAIP), which is a soft loan under the auspices of Pacific Aviation Infrastructure Investments of the World Bank.

The signing yesterday was considered by all stakeholders including government as a milestone for Vanuatu and its people and marked the beginning of a critically important project for the people and the country.

“Bauerfield is the gateway to Vanuatu,” said Minister Napat.

“This is a project of critical importance to our nation, and especially our tourism industry, which contributes to 40% of our national GDP and over 30% of total employment.”

“The Vanuatu Tourism Office and broader tourism industry will be excited to see this project underway as it is one of the keys to unlocking Vanuatu’s tourism potential. It will also help secure the sustainability of our tourism industry into the future,” Minister Napat added.

He said the Vanuatu Government was ready to work with the contractors to complete this project within the 340-days timeframe so that Bauerfield can operate reliably and safely at least for the two decades.

Contractors are working with stakeholders including Air Vanuatu and Airports Vanuatu Limited (AVL) to identify ‘operational windows’ that will be used to carry out the works without interrupting normal airline services, ensuring that Bauerfield will continue to operate normally during the period of the project works.

CCECC and NCACG have announced recruitment of key personnel and the mobilization of equipment and machinery.

“We are committed to meeting the 340 day deadline which is why we will be deploying key personnel and machinery from China to Vanuatu after the signing ceremony,” Mr. Liang said.

The contractors are expecting the first shipment of runway materials to arrive in early July, 2017, while the machinery and equipment will be shipped from China to Vanuatu soon.

The contractors are also already talking with local companies in Port Vila to hire dump trucks, platform trailers, excavators and loaders to commence clearance of the storage site and preparing the erection of the site camp.

Meanwhile, negotiations are currently in progress for Lot 2 works, which include runway works at Whitegrass on Tanna and Pekoa International Airport on Santo, says the Vanuatu Project Management Unit (VPMU) which are coordinators of the project, representing the Government of Vanuatu.

The contract signing ceremony was witnessed by the Minister of Education and Acting Minister of Finance, Jean-Pierre Nirua, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Leingkone and other stakeholders of the project including leaders in the tourism sector and landowners.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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