BATTERED NUKUALOFA RISING FROM ASHES

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Tonga capital recovering from
2006 riots

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Nov. 30, 2009) - THREE years after the destruction in the Nuku'alofa Central Business District in Tonga on November 16, 2006, the reconstruction of the capital is forging ahead and according to Charles Nepia, the reconstruction Project Engineer, much of the work should be completed by the end of 2010.

Charles said that they will be putting out soon illustrations of what the new Nuku'alofa Central Business District will look like, "we can see it clearly in our mind, but we would like people to have some idea of what they will have."

Before Charles became the Project Engineer for the Nuku'alofa Development Corporation in July he was the Construction Manager for all the Latter Days' Saints construction in the Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand. He has been to every capital city in the Pacific, including Waikiki, Hawaii, and he said with confidence that Nuku'alofa will be the best, "it will be sharper, cleaner and user-friendly."

Charles said that the financing of the reconstruction of the Nuku'alofa CBD comes from three different sources, including a 180 million pa'anga [US$93.5 million] Chinese concessional loan, which is administered by the government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Australia and New Zealand Private Sector reconstruction fund, which is administered by the commercial banks "just like any commercial loan project."

There are also other private reconstruction projects, with private funding or from insurance claims.

Charles explained that his involvement is with the construction under the Chinese Concessional Loans. "I am representing the Tongan Government and the land owners to ascertain that all construction is of the highest New Zealand standard."

With regards to other reconstruction works, which are funded from other sources, Charles said the quality of the construction of those premises is not his responsibility.

The Ministry of Works is responsible for the designing of the roads, footpaths and parking areas in the CBD.

Phase one of the reconstruction using the Chinese concessional loan started in May with the start of building a new Taumoepeau Building, and followed by the start of O. G. Sanft Building, then with the Royco Building to follow in about mid December.

Charles said that Phase Two will be the construction of seven new building, "mostly along Taufa'ahau Road and some around the market.

"Included also in Phase Two will be Civil Work components, the building of roads, laying of underground pipes and cables. The actual construction work should start by the end of January 2010."

Charles said that some of the building to be constructed under Phase Two will be bigger than the buildings we have seen so far in Phase One.

Charles expected the three buildings under Phase One, Taumoepeau Building, O. G. Sanft Building and the Royco Building should be completed by May or June next year. "And the rest of the buildings under Phase Two should be all completed by November or before the end of 2010."

Charles explained that any hold up in the starting of construction was due to further consultation, redesigning and an approval by the Ministry of Finance. "The loans have to be repaid, and the land owners should be able to meet their loan repayments."

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