$350 million Australian Investment in Vanuatu future
Work on Vanuatu’s new $350 million (about 33 billion vatu) International Airport, along with remedial work on Baurfield Airport, and upgrading of Pekoa Aiport on Santo, plus improvement works on Norsup and Whitegrass airports, are set to begin following a signing agreement ceremony between the Vanuatu government and the Singapore group known as Vanuatu Trade Development Private Limited.
The cost is twice the annual budget of Vanuatu.
Signing on behalf of the Vanuatu government on Saturday evening were the Prime Minister Moana Carcasses and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edward Natapei.
The Executive Director of the Singaporean ‘Vanuatu Trade Development Private Limited’ David Mak and General Manager Eric Ong signed on behalf of VTDPL Group.
Speaking during the signing ceremony Carcasses said this the single-most major infrastructure project of this magnitude undertaken before and after Independence.
The prime minister said there will be direct flights into and out of Vanuatu without having to transit to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji or New Caledonia to other parts of the world.
“This is the answer to our people which will usher a new era of significant economic progress, and therefore awareness must reach the population of Vanuatu that everyone will be part of this historic event.
“We understand that there are concerns from some people and quarters regarding the project but we proceed with it for the benefit of all,” Carcasses said.
He said a formal government statement will be issued about the project this week, however, he acknowledged the presence of the local media during the signing ceremony.
Prime Minister Carcasses also stressed the magnitude and extension of the project in creating job opportunities for the many of the Ni-Vanuatu people, more tourism industry infrastructure such as hotel, motels, restaurants, local food supplies and tourism and related activities when the new Vanuatu International airport is completed in 2016.
“This is a very ambiguous project of its magnitude and I want to congratulate the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Natapei, for leading the Government Task Force to being this major project to this signing agreement this evening,” Prime Minister Carcasses said.
The Singapore VTDL Group Executive Director David Mak, said in response to the prime minister that the construction company will begin shortly after surveying the appropriate site for the new Vanuatu International Airport. Once this is completed, the actual construction work in building the new International Airport will begin and is estimated to be completed by 2016.
“Today the company is very proud to be awarded the project through the cooperation of the Government of Vanuatu for its new international airport.
Once completed Vanuatu will have direct connection with the rest of the world. We estimate there will be one million visitors –tourists annually and these 1 million tourists and visitors annually will need food, accommodation, transportation and cultural and other activities.
It is the beginning of the new era to move Vanuatu economically into the future,” said the Singapore Group Executive Director David Mak.
David Mak told Daily Post: “This project will create jobs for the people of Vanuatu even prior to the actual construction of the new Vanuatu International Airport. Vanuatu needs a catalyst to start shaking up the country’s economy and we believe that this project of the new international airport is that catalyst. We believe this is the biggest project in Vanuatu.
“Once completed the new international airport will have appropriate infrastructure in place to accommodate large capacity aircraft such as the Boeing 747; wide bodied aircraft that can make direct flights into and out of Vanuatu to other destination around the world that travel 10,000 to 13,000 kilometers.
“Vanuatu will need more hotels, restaurants, transport systems, local food and meat supplies, cultural activities, more investors and yes Singapore visitors and investors are waiting for the completion of the project,” the executive director told Daily Post in an interview.
This is the first time that the Vanuatu Government has signed this type of project which the contractor will design, build and operate under the concession agreement signed Saturday evening for 50 years.
At the end of 50 years, the Singapore VTDL company will transfer the entire project to the Vanuatu Government free and to be owned by the Government and the people of Vanuatu. This means there is no loan involved on the part of the Vanuatu government.
This project is the first of its kind signed under the Act of parliament and both present and past governments as well as the past parliaments were involved in the various stages of its plans but was not implemented.
The ceremony was witnessed by Government Ministers, Senior Government Officials, MPs and political supporters.