The Government’s Vanuatu Airport Investment Project (VAIP) continues to progress with the arrival and offloading of key machines and equipment for the rehabilitation of runway, aprons and related infrastructure for Bauerfield Airport in Port Vila, and the completion of mobilization and assembling of asphalt plants at the Pekoa Airport on Santo.

The shipment of runway materials from China came under intense scrutiny, because of the aggregate risk.

The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and its joint venture partner Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction group JV, commenced offloading and transportation of the machines and equipment from the main wharf in Port Vila to the construction site at Bauerfield at the weekend under the supervision of Biosecurity officers last weekend.

“We can confirm that the ship-Amber Beverly was at the wharf on Saturday the 9th of September-from the morning until the afternoon, offloading the machineries that were on the deck of the vessel, which were approved to be offloaded,” Director of Biosecurity, Timothy Tumukon conveyed in an interview with Vanuatu Nightly News’ Kizzy Kalsakau.

“When offloading, our officers were at the wharf, supervising the offloading and, treating the machinery, before CCECC removed the items.

“The machines and equipment still containing some residual bits of dirt were not allowed off the ship.

“The ship went back to Mele bay, and they have cleaned those machineries. Our boys have treated them and they landed the last lot, last night (Wednesday).

“The ship did not come back to the shore to offload. One of the conditions we established was for the vessel to come to shore only once. And that one time was on September 9.”

The Director said there is additional machinery on board, to be offloaded but they have to be transferred onto a barge or another ship to be shipped ashore — that is the condition.

“It will be in Mele Bay and will go offshore to clean the rest of the machines-beyond 12 nautical miles north west of Efate, come back to Mele bay and offload to a barge to be transported to shore,” said Director Tumukon.

“The ship will leave Vanuatu waters immediately after it has dispatched its last cargo of machinery and equipment.

“The hatches containing the aggregate have not been opened. They remain closed.”

He mentioned that they were getting calls over the weekend that individuals on board and from the company, which imported the aggregate were “offloading things at night, or over the weekend or until Sunday but that is not true”.

“Our boys were on board on Saturday and Sunday, providing supervision of the offloading and of course sending the ship back to Mele bay,” he said.

“There was nothing that was offloaded without our supervision, and there was no activity on Sunday in regards to offloading. There was some activity on board, but simply to clean the machinery that were not accepted.

“We have convened another meeting with the stakeholders, including CCECC to establish an understanding on where things are at and how we expect the remainder of activities of offloading, should be conducted before the ship leaves port.”

In terms of fines, the Director mentioned that there have been different breaches and the fines will be established, according to the schedule of fines, after all the activities, in regards to washing and treatment of the machineries has been completed.

A statement issued by the Vanuatu Project Management Unit (VPMU) affirmed that equipment stored from the lower deck of the vessel have yet to be cleared by Bio-security once treated according to strict instructions from Biosecurity officials.

Mr. Jack Zhang, Acting Project Manager of the CCECC VAIP project said machines and equipment from the first ship from China have been placed at the construction site — awaiting further inspections and final approvals before any work can commence on the Vt6 billion project funded by the World Bank.

He also informed that the second shipment of equipment and machines should depart from China before the 25th of September 2017.

Mr. Zhang has said the Santo Pekoa project team has now completed mobilization and assembling of the asphalt plant at Pekoa.

“The completion of these works means work on Santo can begin in Santo,” said Mr. Zhang while adding that work on Tanna will soon commence.

The contractors have updated key stakeholders, including Airports Vanuatu Limited, and Civil Aviation on the progress of the project this week.

This included the completion of a visit and inspection of the Santo Pekoa Construction site and Bauerfield construction site, with plans to visit the construction site on Whitegrass soon.

The VAIP project team within VPMU and the contractors have expressed sincere gratitude to all key stakeholders for the support and assistance towards the progress of the project, including World Bank team, all relevant Government departments and local companies in Port Vila, Tanna, and Santo.

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