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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 10) – The European Union will fund seven new wharves worth SB$76 million [US$11 million] under the Marine Infrastructure Project in Solomon Islands.

The new wharves, at Kala Bay & Nangu (Temotu Province), Oneibia & Maevo (Makira/Ulawa Province) and Bita’ama, Atoifi and Su’u (Malaita Province), will be constructed over the next 18 months.

In a statement the European Union office said this is a follow up from Marine Infrastructure Project 1, where seven wharves were constructed on Choiseul (Pangoe and Zinoa), Western (Gizo, Falamai, & Seghe) and Isabel (Kaevanga & Gojururu).

As an island nation, which has 347 inhabited islands, the country is heavily dependent on its inter-island shipping industry for the transport of island produce to internal and world markets as well as for inter-island travel for its population.

"Therefore, in order for the shipping industry to flourish, it requires a reliable and safe infrastructure," the European Union office said.

The National Authorizing Officer of the European Development Fund in Solomon Islands invited tenders from five selected companies.

After a careful process of evaluating the tenders, a contract was awarded to Nawae Construction Ltd who had submitted the lowest technically compliant bid.

The Ministry of Infrastructure Development will supervise the construction and is being assisted in this responsibility by a team of international and local engineers contracted by Roughton Ltd of the United Kingdom.

The project is designed to address some of the shortcomings in the Solomon Islands maritime infrastructure including navigational aids and road access to the wharves.

This is in line with the Framework of Mutual Obligations 1998 (FMO 98) between the Solomon Islands Government and the European Commission.

The core objective of the FMO 98 is to improve the livelihoods of Solomon Islands’ rural population, including those in the more remote and disadvantaged locations through product diversification and improved infrastructure.

[PIR editor’s note: See Map of Solomon Islands for reference.]

May 11, 2006

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