BY JARED KOLI
CONSTRUCTION of the Prime Minister (PM) new official residence is scheduled to start next year, 2019.
This is according to the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) Mr Jimmy Nuake.
“All preparatory works including design and architectural drawings are expected to be completed in 2018 for the construction work to start in 2019,” he said.
The Government, through the Ministry of Infrastructure Development has approved a plan to relocate and build a new official residence for the Prime Minister at a site adjacent to the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) headquarters overlooking Honiara City.
Nuake said the new Prime Minister’s residence was based on Government’s Policy initiated in 2016.
He said, according to MID Director for Architect and Building Division, the state of the proposed PM’s residence at Level 5, next to FFA is as follows:
First, the tender for Architectural Design has gone out and recommendation for the designer is now at the Central Tender Board (CTB) for the award.
Second, geotechnical tender has also gone out, waiting for award and work to be carried out thereafter.
Thirdly, according to Nuake, the boundary surveys have been completed.
The Acting Permanent Secretary said Programme schedule for its construction and completion will come after the Architectural Design is completed and a public tender will be put out for the construction work.
“Architectural design of the building is for the building itself including the landscaping. The tender Geotechnical investigation is for the investigation of the soil foundation on which the building will sit on. This is to make sure that an appropriate design is done for the building’s foundation,” he further clarifies.
Nuake assured this paper to give the status of the Geotechnical investigation tender and also the estimated project costs in due cause.
Island Sun understands that Prime Minister Rick Hounipwela and Madame Rachel have moved out from their private residence and are currently residing temporarily at the Heritage Park Hotel.
The Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC) in a statement announced, the temporary arrangement is necessary to allow required renovations to their private residence to meet security and protocol requirements.
“The government currently does not have an Official Residence for the Prime Minister following the demolition of the former Red House which was the Official Residence of the Prime Minister.”
According to the statement, Mr Houenipwela has rejected an assessment cost at more than SBD$2 million to renovate his private home, and instead engaged another contractor to complete the necessary work at a much more reasonable cost of SBD$490,000 from his private expense at a projected timeframe.
The announcement sparked a heated debate and generated a mixture of argument in the social media.
Although many supported the Prime Minister’s rejection of the SBD$2 million as saving tax payers’ money, others argued that in terms of accountability, evidence must be made on the part of the SBD$490,000 PM’s private money and who is going to foot the Hotel bill, and at what cost.