Bauerfield International Airport in Port Vila is one of the three airports that will benefit from the additional Vt 1.6 billion.

The additional US$14 million, around Vt1.6 billion recently approved by the World Bank (WB) for Vanuatu airports development will go toward improving the terminals of Bauerfield Airport in Port Vila

, Pakoa on Santo and Whitegrass on Tanna, Bakoa Kaltongga, the First Political Advisor of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (MIPU) and Chairman of Airports Vanuatu Limited (AVL) has confirmed.

He said this is an additional amount to the US$58.9, million, around Vt 6.6 billion World Bank funding arrangement for airports development for Bauerfield, Pekoa and Whitegrass “not covered under Phase II of the Project”.

He told 96 BuzzFM’s Kizzy Kalsakau the government was pleased and grateful to receive the extra funding from the World Bank.

“Basically, we are happy that the aviation sector, over and above the US$58 million that was allocated for runway works to accommodate Code E aircraft, the World Bank has approved an extra US$14 million that would go into assisting the aviation and transport sector and also looking at certain aspects of improvements and rehabilitation on Bauerfield, Pekoa and on Whitegrass which weren’t included or covered in the US$58 million phase II of the project.

This is actually an additional US$14 million which will enable the government and the MIPU to take advantage of such funding to improve these three airports. One would appreciate that the terminals of Pekoa and Tanna need improvements.

“Santo has been taking in international passengers to some extent already and if we are to consider direct or charter flights into Tanna, we need to improve the facilities and structures there because you will appreciate airports development is not just the runway upgrades but also the airport terminals, the framework and the operations of the airports including legislative considerations, personnel training,” Kaltongga said.

He explained that the US$58.9 million World Bank financing arrangement for airports development project is a joint effort between AVL and Vanuatu Project Management Unit (VPMU) who are managing all the projects on behalf of the government and the Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu (CAAV)as the regulator and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities on behalf of the government and its shareholder partner – the Ministry of Finance.

“With respect to the US$58.9 million project, which tenders were put out and bids were received and assessed by the Technical Fiduciary Services Unit of the World Bank in Tonga in conjunction with Vanuatu Project Management Unit.

“AVL was also part of the assessment team and the engineering consultants from Tonkin & Taylor that designed the upgrade works on the runway and recommended a contractor to the World Bank and the World Bank is reviewing it and still reviewing it because the task of selecting a contractor in such a big project is quiet strict and stringent and the need to ensure that the process is right.”

“Once the World Bank completes assessing the bids and everything is in order, they will send a ‘no objection’ letter and that would eventually mean the government would award the contract.

The actual contractor we are not aware of and we do not know because that is a confidential process that is between the assessment team and the World Bank and no company has been decided as such yet,” Kaltongga continued.

“So, all need to wait for the WB’s decision and once that’s determined we will be coming out in the media with the company that has won the contract.”

He insists that the Code E airport at Bauerfield is number one priority at the moment and they are hoping to begin work in April to May to thicken the runway to a level of thickness that would accommodate large aircraft to be able to land. This work would either be done by one contractor simultaneously at all three airports or by two or three contractors at the same time.

On progress on the new terminal building for Port Vila, Bakoa Kaltonnga confirmed that China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC) has won the bid to design the terminal based on the conditions including the topography of the airport area.

“They are expected to complete the actual designs no later than March this year. They are at it and we are waiting to receive details of the engineering designs on the new terminal,” he said.

He added that once they have received it they will then consider financing options and that there are already financing options available to government.

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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