Japan pleased with Lapetasi wharf project progress

IPGS General Manager Russell Mitchell speaking at the handing over of the first completed area of the Lapetasi wharf project

By Jonas Cullwick

Yoko Asano, Project Formulation Advisor for Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) representing the Japanese Government says they really appreciate reaching this point in the construction at the Lapetasi International Multipurpose Wharf Development Project in Port Vila when a section of the wharf was completed because organizing the construction for the project was complicated.

Japan provided funding for the project and Ms. Yoko made her comment at the handover of the first completed area of the new wharf project to Ifira Ports and General Services (IPGS) last Friday to Kizzy Kalsakau, host of 96 BuzzFM's Vanuatu Nightly News.

“We were a little bit worried at the beginning because the operation is really, really complicated like the IPGS are still continuing their operation, and construction next door at Paray inter-island wharf project is also continuing,” she added.

“So, handing over this area makes us able to divide the area so that the handed over areas is only used by IPGS, while the other area, Toa construction can continue with their work unhindered by the operations of IPGS.

“This can increase the efficiency of the work as well as avoiding the kinds of risks such as accidents.

“So, in terms of the timing, we are really, really happy as this is a kind of a milestone for the project to reach the handing over to IPGS and the Vanuatu Government.”

The General Manager of IPGS, Russell Mitchell, also is a happy man as this is the first handover of the two-year project. There’s still seven months to go.

“We’ve now taken over 7,000 square meters of nice concrete hard stand, which is flat and a new engineering workshop, which has all the required facilities to be able to maintain our equipment to work the container terminal,” he said.

“This is the first part. We still have a long way to go.

“We have to take over the wharf, the container watch station, the container freight station, and the new administration building.

“But this is a milestone in which for us to start actually working on a hard stand on a container terminal. So, it’s a very important day for Ifira and IPGS, especially.”

The concrete hard stand will allow IPGS to go to around 40 tons/square meter loadings on this surface.

It is graded surface, specifically set up so water will run in certain direction where they want it to go into the drainage system and also they do have an earthquake or the sort of event like that the paving bricks have the capacity to be able to move. If it was solid concrete it would just crack.

“Part of the marketing that we’ll be doing when the container terminal’s completed is going into the shipping lines and offering them a very productive terminals where they could bring in what we call transshipment containers which means it’s actually going to another port, but to meet up with another ship it has to be offloaded here and loaded back on board another vessel. And that adds extra volume and extra revenue to Port Vila or Lapetasi and as such it has a roll-on effect to the economy of Port Vila and Vanuatu as a whole.

“It’s been a long time coming.

“It’s been four years since we started from nothing and now we have almost a third of the most modern terminal in the South Pacific.

“The project is scheduled for completion in October.

“We’ll have a ship on the container wharf here in October.

“There is still extra civil work to be done in November, December, but IPGS, a subsidiary of Ifira Trustees Limited will actually take the terminal over in October.”

Paramount Chief Mantoi Kalsakau III of Ifira, Chairman of ITL thanked the Government of Japan and the Government of Vanuatu for funding for the project.

“It’s a huge project and today we’ve witnessed this handing over.

“I ask everyone who works in this area of the new wharf to respect the area because it is a sacred place to us until the whole wharf project is completed and taken over by IPGS and ITL.”

He paid special gratitude to the GM Russell Mitchel for his dedication and commitment to the project and to the people of Ifira.

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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