BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO
FLIGHT restrictions imposed to protect the country from the global pandemic has affected work on the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) airport project at Henderson.
This was revealed by Asano Yoko from the Embassy of Japan yesterday.
“The work reached up to 30percent as of end of July,” Yoko stated.
“The project is affected by flight restriction; however, so far the work is progressing as it was planned,” she added.
She said the impacts in terms of flight restriction prevented expatriates who are supposed to here for the project unable to travel over.
Yoko said currently about 100 Solomon Islanders work on the project.
Some specialized tasks are also taken by local workers.
Kengo Hoshina Project Formulation Advisor, JICA reiterated the project was supported with total funding of 47.3 billion JPY (about 43.5 million USD) with a project period from December 2019 to February 2023.
Hoshina said the international terminal building, international apron, guideway, etc. were constructed by Japan’s Grant Aid.
He said after almost 20 years, the aging has become remarkable.
In particular, some aprons for international flights have severe asphalt peeling, and some airlines have pointed out that they are not suitable for aircraft operations.
Furthermore, Hoshina said with the increase in aviation demand in recent years, the shortage of international parking spots has become a problem.
Presently (before Covid-19 pandemic) the airport is in need of three parking space for aircraft at the same time, but since the international apron has only two parking spots, the airport tentatively responded by providing the apron from the domestic terminal.
He said the existing domestic terminal, fire garage, and control tower are constructed at a position where the ground height is lower than the surrounding area, and they are easily damaged by flooding during the torrential rain in the rainy season.
Hence, through this Japan’s Grant Aid, renovation and expansion of Honiara International Airport will be completed.
By improving facilities and related equipment at Honiara Airport, safety of the airport will be secured.
“The airport will be able to respond to future increases in aviation demand and for Pacific Game in 2023, thereby contributing to the sustainable economic growth of the Solomon Islands,” he said.
The project includes the construction of international departure terminal, renovation of existing international terminal, repair and expansion of apron and taxi way, installation of aviation lights, construction of flood control embankment, etc.
After the completion of the project and the pandemic, both increase in the number of international passengers and number of international flights departing and arriving are expected stated Hoshina.
Moreover, he expressed the challenges faced when implementing the project
“The preparatory work started in December 2019, but due to the global pandemic of Covid-19, the project experts were evacuated and the project forced to be suspended for about 8 month.
In time for completion before the Pacific game in 2023, construction has resumed since Dec 2021, but due to recent strengthening of travel restrictions, overseas engineers have not been able to enter the country, and the project is facing a big challenge against time and cost,” Hoshina said.