“Australia will continue to work with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities to build resilient roads and infrastructure that will continue to benefit the communities for many years to come. We also look forward to the next chapter of R4D II (formerly known as Vanuatu Transport Sector support Programme Phase Two)”.

Australian Deputy High Commissioner, Susan Ryle, made the remarks in her key note address to mark the completion of the first phase of the Australian Government funded Road Project in Vanuatu (R4D) on the front lawn of MIPU two days ago. It also marked the handing over of the R4D Programme to PWD.

The Deputy High Commissioner thanked everyone involved in the hard work and achievement to wind up the first phase of the project on June 30 2018.

Through the project the Department of Public Works has been transformed from a road maintenance agency to successfully utilise private sector expertise to maintain the vast majority of Vanuatu’s road network.

“This change has been dramatic in the last few years. PWD now delivers only 10% of its 2018 work plan using in-house resources compared to 63% in 2013”, she said.

“We have maintained, rehabilitated and improved thousands of kilometres of road across all Provinces in Vanuatu.

“We’ve improved access to 39 more schools many thousands more students can reliably get to school regardless of the weather conditions.

“We’ve improved access to 26 more health centres many hundreds of ni Vanuatu in rural locations can reliably access basic health care and we’re very proud of these results, despite some very significant challenges including the weather”.

Between 2013 and 2018, R4D has lived through a number of devastating natural disasters including the recent Manaro volcanic ash fall on Ambae.

“On behalf of the Government of Australia I want to thank you all for your contributions, your hard work, your commitments no matter how small, to the achievement of this partnership, in particular to the Acting DG and the Acting Director – thank you for being strong advocates remaining committed throughout the programme”.

Acting DG Samuel Namuri, on behalf of the Government, thanked the Australian High Commission for the sound partnership, commitment and support it has provided towards R4D.

Since 2010 when he was Project Planner, the Acting DG said despite the many challenges experienced along the way, his team has evolved with the project to arrive with it where it is today. “I am very happy to see that we are benefitting from project today”, he said.

He praised the staff of the Ministry for the spirit of unity that has bound everyone together.

He thanked the staff of the Ministry, Public Works, Civil Aviation and Ports and Harbour as well as the Australian High Commission, for the spirit of cooperation that has achieved the desired results at the end of the first phase of R4D.

R4D was an AUD $29 million, four-year commitment by the Government of Australia. Later it was extended to five years, to assist the rural communities of Vanuatu gain increased access to a well-maintained, sustainable rural road network.

It supported the Government of Vanuatu to effectively and efficiently plan, build, maintain and operate its rural road infrastructure.

The programme aimed to assist the Government of Vanuatu streamline its public works management and administration. The programme aimed to assist the Government streamline its public works management and administration.

The programme directly involved rural communities and small local contractors in managing and maintaining their local roads, thus further stimulating local economic activity whilst improving accessibility.

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