$2 billion for 2023 games

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By Alfred Sasako

IT’S official.

The Pacific Games which Solomon Islands is hosting in 2023 will cost us up to $2 billion (about USD250 million).

Officials were told last Friday that facilities including the Games Village would cost between $1.5 billion to $2 billion (about USD250 million), Island Sun was told earlier this week.

The funding proposal will be presented initially to Government Caucus and later to Cabinet for its final blessing.

“Once Caucus decision is endorsed by Cabinet, the final go-ahead will be given for design work to begin,” one official told Island Sun.

This will be followed by the project being put on public tender.

The fact that Honiara has fallen behind in payments to foreign firms undertaking projects in Solomon Islands is already troubling enough for the government.

Sources said the Government owes China’s two State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) firms – China Harbour and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) – more than $30 million in combined contract debts.

Such a dilemma has the potential to frighten off international companies bidding for the Games Village Project, given its size and cost.

The all-encompassing plan is to convert the entire lower Panatina land owned by the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) into the Games Village. Facilities for all field events including running tracks for the sporting bonanza are being shared by Panatina Campus and Kukum Campus nearby.

Thousands of sports men and women from all over the Pacific are expected in Honiara for the Games.

The plan also includes conversion of the King George VI soccer pitch into a National Stadium in a joint development with the National Sports Academy training field nearby.

Taiwan has indicated funding the National Stadium although it has not indicated how much Taipei is investing in the development.

Officials say the Stadium will have up to 20,000 seating capacity at any one time. It is understood the Government has received the design for the National Stadium from Taiwan.

“The government will be studying the design plan before the project, expected to cost around SBD270 million, is put on tender in Taiwan,” one official told Island Sun.

At least two Taiwanese companies are vying for the contract to build what is being billed to be an all-weather Stadium, built to international sporting standards.

It is not clear whether the cost of the National Stadium is included in the SBD2 billion price tag for the Games.

Kukum Campus land will also be converted, including the seafront of the Marine School at Ranadi for a number of water sports events during the course of the Games.

It is understood that all the SINU land has been secured by the 2023 Games Committee, chaired by the Member of Parliament for East Fataleka, Steve Abana.

The deal, according to some, is that SINU and KG VI will take possession of all the facilities including buildings on their land once the Games are over.

“The idea is to kill two birds with one stone,” one government official said.