PORT Vila Lapetasi International Multi-Purpose Wharf has officially opened after two years of construction work.
Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai said it was an historical day for the people of Vanuatu and especially the Chiefs and people of Ifira.
Mr Salwai said that they are happy to declare that this terminal now begins full operations to work with international shipping agencies and operators.
“There have been many negotiations done for this wharf and many said it will only be a dream but today we witnessed that this dream has come true,” he said.
Mr Salwai acknowledged the Paramount Chief of Ifira, Paunimanu Mantoi Kalsakau III and the past governments up to the current one in maintaining the policy and in strongly developing the stand to have this wharf.
He also thanked the huge support of the people and the Government of Japan in funding this project. He thanked the Australian Government through DFAT in making a comprehensive visibility study that gave the assurance for the Japan Government to fund the project.
The Paramount Chief of Ifira, Paunimanu Mantoi Kalsakau III welcomed all guests and the public who came to witnessed the ceremony.
Mr Paunimanu said this is the most modern port in the South Pacific.
He said Lapetasi Wharf was an initiative of the Ifira Trustees Limited and the Vanuatu Government that came up when container activities increased from 2500 to 5000 in 2006.
“In 2007, a consultant from the Ministry of Commerce of the Government of United Kingdom came and made the first sketch of the Lapetasi Wharf,’’ he said
“This established the first visibility of the wharf. And it resulted in the Government of that time led by Ham Lini to sign a 30-year concession between the government and Ifira Wharf and Stevedoring Ltd to spearhead the development of a new Multi-Purpose Terminal. In 2010 the wharf project was presented to the Japan Minister of Foreign Affairs to get the funding for the wharf construction.
“In 2012 the Vanuatu Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sato Kilman Livtunvanu and the former Minister of Finance, Willie Jimmy signed the first loan from Japan to build the wharf.’’
Mr Paunimanu expressed their acknowledgements to the Vanuatu Government, the Japanese Government through the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) in facilitating the process of the loan for the wharf construction. He also expressed his acknowledgements to the construction and engineering companies and other important people who have contributed to the successful achievement and construction of this wharf.
“As the Chairman of the IPDS, I would like to declare that this company will pay back all the money given by the ODA of VT 9 billion,” he said.
Koichi Miyoshi, Charges D’Affairs ad interim of the Embassy of Japan in Vanuatu said the total cost of this project was estimated at an amount of VT 9.5 billion.
He said the project was funded by Japans Official Development Assistance (ODA).
“JICA has worked closely with Vanuatu’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities and the Ministry of Finance in implementing this project,’’ he said.
“Japanese Companies, TOA Corporation as the main contractor and the ECOH Corporation, Oriental Consultants Company and Japan Port Consultants Ltd as the designer have participated in the construction of this wharf. The two companies supported the project with excellent technical expertise.’
Mr Miyoshi said that the wharf will contribute significantly to Vanuatu’s economic growth.
He said this project was not the first project funded by Japan.