The renovated Independence Grandstand was declared officially open yesterday, ready to host the main independence celebration in Port Vila where everyone will be gathering to sing the national anthem while the national flag is raised to honor Independence Day.

Repair and extension works at the grandstand were undertaken by Island Construction Ltd, starting on early June at a cost of Vt61million.

The upgraded Independence Grandstand was launched with the new 1km road from Colardeau to Independence Park, which cost about Vt15million.

Kellen Construction was contracted to do concrete pavement while permanent sealing was applied by the Public Works Department (PWD).

The new road was given the name ‘Mau Koro Street’ while the Independence Grandstand will now be known as ‘ ‘Marae Kanakea Grandstand’.

Prime Minister (PM) Bob Loughman; Minister of Internal Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, Ishmael Kalsakau; Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Forestry and Biosecurity, Kalo Willie Daniel; Minister of Justice and Community Services, Esmon Saimon; Minister of Trades, James Bule; Minister of Health, Silas Bule; Minister of Climate Change, Bruno Leingkon; Minister of Youth and Sports, Wille Saatearoto; Mayor of Port Vila Erick Puyo Festa and the Paramount Chief of Ifira, Mantoi Paunimanu Kalsakau III, joined hands to cut the ribbons on both infrastructures yesterday.

Before officiating the opening of the renovated Independence Grandstand, PM Loughman on behalf of the government and people of Vanuatu performed a custom ceremony to thank the custodians of the land.

He thanked the national independence task force and sub-committee, civil engineers and laborers who have scarified their weekends, working seven days since day one to complete the repair and extension works in time.

Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Chairlady of the Independence Sub-Committee, Cherol Ala, urged members of the public to respect and take very good care of the new infrastructures.

The new road will connect residents to essential services such as health and education, she said.

She said the Independence Grandstand is an historical site that will continue to remind everyone of the country’s struggle for freedom as it was where the official declaration for independence was made 40 years ago.

Before 1980 during condominium rule, the Independence Park is referred to as the British Paddock. The field where the Grandstand is built at is known as British Paddock Cricket Pavilion.

The British Residency offered the Independence Park to host the first and main Independence Day in 1980, following a request from the Director Coordinator Independence Celebration.

Celebrations were held in Port Vila and other 98 centers throughout the country. This year’s celebrations will be held at the same venue in Port Vila and 71 Area Councils and Provincial Councils.

The plan to re-develop the Independence Grandstand was initiated by PWD and the National Celebration Committee.

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