AVL CEO Jason Rakau calls Bauerfield most important infrastructure asset

AVL CEO Jason Rakau (at the podium) addresses audience at groundbreaking ceremony

By Jonas Cullwick

“The Vanuatu Airport Infrastructure Project (VAIP), which is the rehabilitation of Bauerfield Airport, is a project that Airports Vanuatu Limited (AVL) has been looking forward to for a long time, as far back as 2010.

“It is now happening and this makes us at AVL very happy, we can now go ahead with the project.”

Those were the words of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AVL, Jason Rakau, while welcoming guests to the groundbreaking ceremony of the project on Wednesday.

Rakau thanked the Government for appreciating this national need and the World Bank for funding the project, to address Bauerfield runway issues. He also thanked other stakeholders for “pushing forward together over the last two years despite the challenges until today that the project is finally starting construction”.

“We are half way there, but there’s a lot more work to be done and I hoped that everyone would continue to cooperate as in the past for the benefit of the future generations and address the most important infrastructure asset of the country we are now working on this year until this time next year,” he said.

Under the Vanuatu Aviation Investment Project (VAIP) there are runway projects and other smaller associated projects and the major portion of the funding is for upgrading the runways, which has been split into two – Lot 1 for Bauerfield airport runway and Lot 2 for the runways of Pekoa in Luganville, Santo and Whitegrass Airport in Tanna.

The Wednesday ceremony witnessed the groundbreaking for the Lot 1 project, which is for Bauerfield Airport.

Apart from the runway projects, CEO Rakau said AVL had been quite busy over the last couple of years and since 2016 we have been having issues with the Port Vila runway.

“AVL is also working on improving the internal management of airports to ensure we have improvements in the company to continue to manage these infrastructures soon after we finished constructing them, an ongoing activity under VAIP.

“And the work includes such things as a Master Plan we are working and Aviation Sector Strategies. There have been consultations with people in the aviation industry.

“These activities are ongoing and as soon as we complete the projects under World Bank funding, AVL, the state-owned company entrusted by government with the responsibility of managing our airports and runways, I believe AVL will have important strategies for management going forward with a view to further improvements in the industry in the future.”

The AVL CEO said there are many projects AVL was working on apart from runway, and he pointed to a new fire station for Bauerfield airport they have just completed with finishing touches taking place to ensure it is of international standard, and the opening to follow soon.

It will house AVL’s fire trucks and properly equipped with facilities for their firefighters and tools necessary for them to address any emergency situation.

Rakau said there is reconstruction also taking place in the terminal buildings including cool rooms and offices and creating more space inside to cater for more cargo coming in to be properly housed inside including new offices.

He anticipated this to be completed by the start of the Pacific Mini Games in early December.

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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