By Gary Hatigeva
MINISTER of Infrastructure Development and Member of Parliament for East Kwaio Standley Sofu has revealed that most of the works on the upgrading of the Honiara Highway are now at an 85 percent completion stage.
This is based on feasibility reports and feedbacks from the contractor and taskforce that oversees the works, who recorded in its July report that all Road Upgrade work, walkway pavements and drainages, and the bridges, put together, make up the completion rate.
In Parliament following its resumption after it was adjourned for a week, the Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga and Chair of Bills and Legislation Committee, Matthew Wale, questioned the Infrastructure Minister on the progress of the Honiara main road project.
Wale also questioned the Minister on whether all SIWA, SIEA and Telekom underground infrastructures are being laid along with progress, and will not require damage to the road again after completion of the project.
“Based on report from end of July, work completion rate is at 85 percent. A few things have contributed to cause small slow down in the work. Obviously we know, the weather, and a few mechanical issues with their machines,” the MID Minister explained.
He said the contractor on the other hand is working on a new approach to meet the deadline timeframe, which is in November this year, and that has included working day and night to make up for lost time.
Sofu further updated that the part in which works are heavily focused on at this period is the road running through the Kukum highway from Bahai up to the Kukum roundabout.
He told parliament that as an added bonus, the sealing or road upgrading, based on the materials used, has international standards in term of its Strength that can cater for bigger vehicles and should last the country up to 20 years before we will start looking into repairs
“As for the works done by SIWA, SIEA and Telekom, their programmes are ensured to go along with the current status of the road project
“Should there be need for relocations or changes to lines and pipes, there will be talks to make arrangements and agreements done, before changes are carried out,” Sofu added.
He also acknowledged that the matter of making updates through parliament is very important so that work progression updates are highlighted and people are kept informed and updated on facts.
The project covers three areas of phases according to the Minister, and one of which is, the Roundabout from Honiara City Council to Fisheries opposite the SINU Kukum Campus.
Second is the bridge at downstream Mataniko River and the third phase includes the bridge that goes into china town, which work on it is still underway.
Wale however explained that this question comes precisely because of the practice where roads are completed and other organisations would come to dig them up for the purpose of accessing their underground infrastructures
“And presumably, in the design phase of it, all of those various stakeholders would have involved in the discussions so there would be some protocols or process that they agreed to for those organisations to access their underground infrastructures at various points.
“How they will do it and who will foot the bill, being responsible to repair the roads into the status they are in after the Japanese contractor had put in place is questionable.
In addition through supportive comments on Wale’s question, the Member of Parliament for East Honiara and also Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Douglas Ete stressed that if the system will continue to look into contracting local firms to do repairs as when need post upgrades, he suggested for the government to strengthen the process in repairs and legalise the types of materials and products to be used for maintenance.
He said the purpose of his suggestion is to help avoid the usage of non-usable or bad materials.
As for the road upgrade in its own breakdown, it will continue with its second phase, which runs from the HCC Roundabout going up to White River in West Honiara.
Phase three on the other hand, based on Minister Sofu’s revelation, is expected to start sometimes later next year, which will also be in discussion status first, and it should cover the road from the Fisheries spot, going all the way to the Henderson International Airport main road.