Vanuatu Taskforce To Look At Ways To Upgrade Airport

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$350 million plan for new facility dropped, Bauerfield needs improvements

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, August 5, 2014) – The Vanuatu Prime Minister, Joe Natuman, says the government is appointing a taskforce to look for ways to upgrade Bauerfield Airport in Port Vila as a matter of urgency.

This comes after a 350-million US dollar plan to develop a new airport was scrapped last week.

Mr Natuman says the government's immediate concern should be ensuring Bauerfield Airport is up to international standards, as if it is not, tourism could take a hit.

He says Vanuatu Trade Development Limited, which was awarded the contract to develop the new airport by the previous government, was also tasked with renovating Bauerfield Airport but did not follow through.

"The Singaporean company after they signed the agreement last year was supposed to resurface and refurbish the whole airport, but they haven't done it. Maybe they have done some feasibility studies but nothing yet on the ground. So this agreement has now expired, so we will have to get another group to fix our current airport."

[PIR editor’s note: RNZI reported that ‘The Vanuatu government says it is seeking advice on compensation for the Singapore-based company which lost a deal to develop an international airport in Vanuatu. ... The airport plan, introduced by the recently removed Prime Minister, Moana Carcasses, was met with strong opposition from MPs over the terms of the US$350 million contract. ... An ad hoc parliamentary committee decided the plan's risks outweighed the benefits, and the project was canned last week. ... Vanuatu Trade Development Limited is now claiming US$31 million in losses. ... The Prime Minister, Joe Natuman, says the government is contesting that figure.’]

Joe Natuman says the long-term plan is still to develop a new airport, but any future projects must be based on an aviation master plan.

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