By Gary Hatigeva
WHAT is being debated as the delay into the million-dollar tourism complex project in Gizo, Western Province, has raised questions among people in the province and responsible stakeholders.
Questions have continuously being asked and issues relating to the project and why it has been delayed for a year.
They questioned the Trades Transformation Company (TTC) progress in the implementation of the project and why head of the company failed to update them about the project.
The project is designed to be a flagship to boost tourism destination in the province as it will develop, promote and market Tourism products and services in the province.
Information has it that it was not until 2013 and 2014, the project finally received its approval and actual construction work began.
TTC, a local contractor in Honiara who has over the past been engaged in various construction of government projects such including roads, bridge and buildings, is the current contractor working on the construction work.
But now people living in the province are expressing deep concerns over the current tourism complex, which has also been described as an eye sore building as they all question the delay of the implementation of the province tourism office complex including the provincial government and Tourism and Culture Division Office.
Information further revealed that no construction work is being done and Island Sun Gizo reports that the project has not moved and grasses have grown tall within the compound.
Sources informed Island Sun that some TTC workers have also raised concerns over not receiving their payments for four fortnights.
“This project was a three-year national project which works should have commenced in 2014, but still there is no investigation carried out to find out why there is a delay to the building until this year,” some of the questions states.
“Where are we heading and where is Tarzen Holosivi to plainly explain to the people of Western Province why the tourism complex is incomplete,” others asked.
Meanwhile, the Western Province Tourism Association (WPTA) committee also joined the people’s concerns, questioning TTC for not quickly completing the information centre.
“The department hopes to make this model work for Western Province and use it as an example for every province in Solomon Islands.
“This complex will comprise of a reception area that will provide information and educational materials for visitors, students and researchers. The area will have sofas, tables and chairs for those waiting or carrying out information research.
“But no such development rendered, while it is noted that a lot of tourists visit Western Province, students and visitors from different countries and provinces and have experienced difficultly to seek for information,” said WPTA members.
WPTA stated that if TTC is unable to complete the million dollars project, then it or the ministry should hand over to other contractor’s base in the province to complete the complex.
People of Western Province are now planning to seek legal advice to report the halt to the Magistrate Court.
Meanwhile, the TTC Managing Director in an interview explained that the delay is an unfortunate situation as it is something that is outside of their control.
Mr Holosivi when contacted last night on this said there were some technical issues surrounding the first phase of the project, which was based on some unforeseen circumstances to the facility’s design and plan.
He said the original plan never factored the technicalities involved in the location of the project site and based on engineers’ findings (survey and report) changes were pointed out making additional costing, which Holosivi claimed had forced an unexpected exhaustion of the first trench of payment, resulting in the gap that arose the need for additional funds.
“Unfortunately, due to the cash flow issue experienced by the government last year, the request for a variation of funds was not forthcoming, which then affected the progress of our work into the project.
“And that too has affected our payroll structure, but from our own allocation, we were able to manage it,” the TTC Managing Director explained.
He however assured the Western Province public that the company, after dialogues with the ministry, is prepared to take the status of works into the project back on track and normal, having to commit personal funds for its completion.
It is understood that no specific allocation was set forth in the 2018 budget for the project, but according to the contractor, the ministry is keen to see the much anticipated tourism facility completed and have also assured to see that funds become available to fulfil government’s part to the contractor.