A NEW project will help renovate the ring road and bridges in the Efate by mid 2017.
The project known as the ‘Cyclone Pam Road Condition Reconstruction Project’ (CPRCRP) will be funded by the Asian Development bank (ADB).
David Spring, team leader with Cardno Emerging Markets (Australia) for the CPRCRP, said the ADB is funding the project with approximately US$16.3 million dollars of which US$3.5 million are loans and the rest are grants.
“The government is contributing US$2.2 million dollars and the total project value is US$18.5 million,” he said.
Mr Spring said the construction work is expected to start as long as the approvals for the tender prices through the ADB and the government go to plan.
“Generally what we are doing now is preparing for the tender, which means drawing plans to give fellow contractors who are interested to give us a price and so we can get an advertisement in the paper,” he said.
“There are definitely opportunities for local ni-Vans to be employed on the project, even if an international company wins the tender to do the work, and also other job opportunities of course to get employ with the international company.
“There is a requirement for them to employ a minimum number of local contractors.
“We already have six of our staff as ni-Vans in the design /office team.”
Mr Spring said the project is mainly looking at fixing the road and bridges on Efate ring road and it will be a proper long term fix.
“There is absolutely quite a number of other places round Efate that need repairs apart from the Creek Ai bridge at Lelepa Landing that was badly damaged by Pam and is still in a bad condition.
“At Creek Ai the design is for some very large concrete box culverts, the road level will be about 4m higher than it is now and much more will fit through the culvert before it overflows in a very large storm event and the banks will be protected from washouts too.”
Mr Spring said he is very much looking forward to start the project.
Some bus drivers speaking to The Independent this week said they have been with tourists touring round the island for quite a lot of time.
“Most of the places like the Creek Ai bridge and the road near Onesua Presbyterian College (OPC) are still in a bad condition and we are excited to hear that the new project will help reconstruct it,” they said.
“It’s not comfortable touring round the island when the places are in bad condition.”
A local ni-Van who travels to work every day told The Independent that it’s been too many months since Pam and the roads and bridges, especially Creek Ai, are still in a terrible condition.
“I mean the roads and bridges are very important because if there is a big flood at Creek Ai then we won’t be getting to work and so there will be no income for us.”
Mr Spring said meanwhile his message to the bus drivers driving around the island over the bad conditions is that hopefully this is the last wet season they will have to endure it and that the conditions afterwards will be safer and less likely to flood.
“Another point here is that even though the work will start in mid -2017, the work takes time to do and people won’t see those sites being fixed straight away,” he said.
“So my point here is for someone in the Public Works Department (PWD) generally in the maintenance area is needed to fill up the potholes for the next 10 months.
“They will need to do that until the contractor starts and takes ownership for the sites.”
The Independent has tried to reach Jotham Napat, Minister of Public Utilities and Infrastruture for comments on the work but he was unreachable.