JAPAN CONFIRMS FUNDING FOR NEW K-B BRIDGE AND CORAL RESEARCH CENTER IN PALAU

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KOROR, Palau (June 17, 1999 - PACNEWS)---Japan has confirmed an agreement to fund construction of a new Koror-Babeldaob (K-B) Bridge and the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC).

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the two projects was signed by Keiichi Hasegawa, Chargé d' Affaires of the Embassy of Japan in Koror, and Palau’s State Minister, Sabino Anastacio.

Of the $US 32.6 million Japanese grant in aid, $US 26 million will be used for construction of the bridge. The remaining $US 6.6 million will go towards development of the new coral center.

A statement from Palau’s President Kuniwo Nakamura said the construction phase of the new bridge is planned to start during the first week of August; and would take about 26 months, with completion near the end of 2001.

Regarding the PICRC project, Nakamura said a request for bids is expected to be announced by the end of this month, with construction to take about 10 months.

The President said it then would take several months to stock the live marine exhibit tanks and prepare them for the grand opening of the center in January 2001.

Chargé d' Affaires Hasegawa said the PICRC project would provide first class coral reef educational and research facilities. In addition, he said, "I am confident this project will assist in promoting the development of tourism and contribute to the economic advancement of Palau."

The PICRC project is to include a visitor center, a research building to house research laboratories and support facilities, a training and experiment room for Palauan science teachers to use in conducting student field trips and an administration building.

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