PALAU GEARS FOR START OF COMPACT ROAD PROJECT

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By Malou L. Sayson

KOROR, Palau (April 29, 1999 – Palau Horizon/Marianas Variety)---Government officials and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USCOE) and Daewoo Corporation will meet next month to discuss the preparations for groundbreaking ceremonies for construction projects which are set to begin in mid-June.

Resources and Development Minister Marcelino Melairei told Palau Horizon that the pre-construction meeting  is critical as it will tackle all the nitty-gritty details, such as environmental and historical preservation considerations, construction procedures and ordinance removal.

The Government of Palau, President Nakamura said in an earlier interview, has gone into another round of consultations with the USCOE, Honolulu District, here in Palau to discuss, in particular, the ticklish issue of environmental preservation.

Lt. Col. Colonel Wally Walters of the USCOE, Tom Yokum of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a Fish and Wildlife Service representative named Molina came to Palau and met with national and state government officials.

The President emphasized the environmental issue, saying that "We can easily address or resolve (this matter) and come up with acceptable resolutions."

In an interview, Melairei said, "We are trying to have more discussions about the Ngaremeduu Conservation program to be used as mitigation for the compact road project."

The role of the state governments of Ngaremlengui, Ngatpang and Aemiliik is crucial to ensure that environmental preservation measures are implemented to protect the fragile ecology and environment of the areas concerned.

Melairei said aside from the Ngaremeduu program encompassing the three states, there is also the Ngardok Lake, considered as another conservation area vital in pushing the mitigation program for the compact road.

The utilization of resources has also been raised, considering that the $149 million, 53-mile compact road is the largest public civil works project to be implemented in Micronesia.

"We are going to use local materials (filling materials) as much as possible," Melairei said. But in terms of cement supply, Palau has to resort to importation.

All materials, though, have to be approved by the USCOE to ensure the use of quality materials for the project.

In terms of human resources, there is an understanding between the USCOE and the Government of Palau to employ as many local people as possible.

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