BY SAMIE WAIKORI
The Bina Harbour tuna processing plant project is reportedly progressing.
This is despite few challenges authorities say they have encountered along the way.
Malaita provincial government says it has been assured by the national fisheries ministry (MFMR) that funding for feasibility studies in an associated project has been approved.
MFMR Permanent Secretary Dr Christian Ramofafia, Project Manager of Bina Harbour Tuna Processing Plant, Mr Peter Cusack and their team recently informed Premier Daniel Suidani of these updates.
This was upon a request made by Premier Suidani under the framework provided through the MOU on Bina project signed by the MFMR and MPG in 2020.
Suidani’s political advisor, Mr Celsius Talifilu said these progresses include approved funding under DFAT’s Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program (SIIP) for Bina water supply and wastewater management feasibility study.
“This will manage by Solomon Water under an engagement with the Australian firm, SMEC to do the work as early as next week. SMEC is expecting to work closely with MFMR and MPG on the Fa’agwa water source that appears to be the ideal source.
“Another major step forward is issuing of call for expression of interest for a managing services contractor to manage the Bina Harbour Project office which will build in Auki town, Malaita province.
“The NZ government through MFMR expects that the contractor will be in place by July/August. The office is critical for driving Bina Harbour project forward and will be free from unexpected constraints of government administrative processes.
“In addition, another recent important development for Bina is that the IFC senior management has approved the Sydney-based IFC team to continue to support SIG, MPG and MFMR with Bina.
“The arrangement is framed in a Financial Advisory Services Agreement which has been vetted and approved by MFMR and will shortly be signed by IFC,” he said.
According to Talifilu under the agreement, IFC will work over the next 12 months to support environmental and social baseline studies for Bina, develop the legal and financial model for an investor to operate a tuna processing plant at Bina, further define the technical and financial model for a viable tuna fishing, trading and processing operation and develop a cost/benefit analysis of the project for SIG’s consideration.
“These services will be provided by IFC free of charge, IFC then expect to continue its support for Bina by acting as SIG’s transaction advisor for the concession to be negotiated with a global tuna industry operator,” Talifilu said.
He said the final area Premier Suidani updated on was the current legal claim that is hoped to deal with soon. The MFMR’s legal advisor has continued to press for the resolution of the outstanding clam against the Bina/Talifu land settlement.