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MV ‘Otuanga’ofa due in October

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Aug. 21, 2010) – The berths for inter-island ferries at Queen Salote Wharf will undergo a $140,000 upgrade in preparation for the expected arrival of the new inter island ferry, MV 'Otuanga'ofa from Japan on October 20.

Acting Transport Secretary Sione 'Akau'ola said that the upgrading of berths for the new ferry in Ha'apai and Vava'u would follow. The work is needed because of the different size and the landing mechanism of the MV 'Otuanga'ofa compared to the earlier ferries.

Pacific Engineering Consultant Group would design the upgraded berths, while Tafolo Construction will do the work on the Queen Salote Wharf landing place, starting on Monday, August 23 to be completed in six weeks time.

The upgrading work at Queen Salote Wharf will include raising the height of the existing ramp by 0.5m, widening the ramp to 13.0m wide, fixing the wharf edge reinforced concrete beam, installing new bollards and new fenders using old tyres.

Sione said that the new inter island ferry donated to Tonga by the Government of Japan is a stern loading vessel which is bigger than the old Olovaha.

Sione said the major infrastructure re-developments to follow would be the Ha'apai and Vava'u wharfs with tenders for the work to be opened to the public next week.

The redevelopments of these wharfs would also include widening the ramp, raising its height, fixing the wharf edge like that at Queen Salote wharf in Tongatapu.

He said they expected that the upgrade of these two main outer island wharfs would be completed by October 20.

With regards to the Niuas Sione said that more work was required, "we have no specific time to when work will actually start," he said.

Sione said that the priority now was to upgrade the Tongatapu, Vava'u and Ha'apai wharfs before the new ferry arrived in October.

Meanwhile, they are planning for the interim ferry Ajang Subuh to continue to service the Niuas before the wharfs in those islands are upgraded.

The MV 'Otuanga'ofa has no set date on when it would start its commercial inter island ferry service in Tonga but it is anticipated that may be before the end of 2010.

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