First shipment of aggregate for Bauerfield Airport works arrives

The aggregate load in Hold number 5 in the freighter New Izumu ready for discharge when the Daily Posted visited the vessel with Timothy Tumukon and his staff.

By Jonas Cullwick

Discharging of 31,000 metric tons of aggregate for Port Vila’s Bauerfield Airport upgrades work is now in progress at Mele Bay from the Panamanian-registered freighter, New Uzumu.

The 177-meter long bulk carrier arrived on Wednesday morning with the first of three trips of the product totaling 31,614 metric tons and cleared for discharge by the Director of Biosecurity, Timothy Tumukon and his staff.

Ben Weedon, representing the charterer of the vessel, Green Coast Resources (GCR) of Australia, who have been subcontracted by the airport contractor CCECC of China, says they plan for the discharge of the aggregate to take between seven and eight days.

He says GCR are using a Fiji-based tugboat and crew and two barges – one with a capacity of 1,900 metric tons and the other 1,000 tons to discharge the load and stockpile it on the shore near the Mele Golf Club for CCECC to take possession of the product to tar seal the airport.

The discharge began at 5am Friday morning under the watchful eye of Biosecurity Officer Ano Nawen.

Weedon says loading of around the same amount of aggregate as this load is taking place starting today at Brisbane, onto another bulk carrier. And the third and final trip will be made by this first freighter, the New Uzumu, with the plan by GCR to complete the delivery to CCECC by February 21, 2018.

Last year, the Biosecurity Vanuatu Director Tumukon, and his staff refused to allow aggregate delivered from China by CCECC for the Bauerfield Airport project to be landed due to lack of adequate documentation for the product.

Tumukon told Daily Post now this product is allowed to be landed because the Biosecurity staff were involved in the full process of access of the product starting from the mines to final stockpiling on shore at Mele Gold Club.

“I went to Brisbane in December and visited the mine site with the GCR people and I was happy with the place and then laid down the requirements for mining and stockpiling of the aggregate at Brisbane wharf before loading.

“We wanted to ensure no unwanted organism, such as the cane toad and a species of fire ant different from the one found in the Banks Group reaches Vanuatu,” he explained.

The Biosecurity Director confirmed one of his staff is currently in Brisbane supervising loading of the second trip of the aggregate now in progress.

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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