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By Johnson Wabaiat, Director of the Vanuatu Project Management Unit (VPMU), and Stephen Blaik, ADB Senior Urban Development Specialist
Representatives from the Vanuatu and Australian governments and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have welcomed the latest milestone of a large scale project which will assist Vanuatu with achieving sustainable urban development through improved access to sanitation, drainage facilities and roads in Port Vila.
On September 2, Esmon Saimon, Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities together with Robert D'Cruz, Regional Manager of Roughton International signed the first major contract under the project which heralds a key milestone in the US$39 million Port Vila Urban Development Project. The project is a jointly funded initiative of the Government’s of Vanuatu and Australia and the Asian Development Bank.
During the next nine months, the design of all the road upgrading, drainage and sanitation under the project will be finalised in preparation for the construction of roads and drainage facilities next year.
The Port Vila Urban Development Project is the most significant investment in Port Vila since independence 33 years ago. Port Vila is the commercial and tourist center of the country, generating almost two thirds of national GDP. The current poor state of the capital’s drainage, road and sanitation infrastructure are having a negative impact on Vanuatu’s ability to attract and retain commercial and tourist related investment. The deteriorating condition of this critical infrastructure is also leading to increasing public health concerns, environmental degradation and poorer quality of life of Port Vila residents and visitors.
The project will help address these issues and contribute to sustainable development in Port Vila in close coordination with other major projects underway in the national capital including the Port Vila Lapetasi International Multi-Purpose Wharf Development Project, the Vanuatu Interisland Shipping Support Project, and the Vanuatu Tourism Infrastructure Project all which will support Port Vila as a vibrant and attractive economic hub of the Pacific.
Informing the community about project developments will be a major focus for the Vanuatu Project Management Unit (VPMU), which oversees the Government of Vanuatu’s major infrastructure projects.
Community hygiene and sanitation awareness programs are scheduled to begin in January 2014 and will be implemented for the five year duration of the project. The project has a capacity building component for government agencies and community organizations which begin at the beginning of next year also.
The Port Vila Urban Development Project will:
*Provide a traffic and pedestrian management plan for greater Port Vila to relieve traffic congestion, improve road safety and urban amenity.
*Upgrade approximately 22km of roads in Port Vila (including the Lini Highway, Route du Quai, Rue de Paris, and Winston Churchill Street);
* Improve drainage in flood-prone areas such as Tebakor, the central business area, Ohlen and Seven Stars. Drainage assets to be provided by the project include 25km of pipe drainage, 8km of open drains, and 0.7km of stormwater drainage tunnels;
*Improve the disposal and treatment of sludge from up to 4,500 households and commercial septic tanks, by improving the management of the privately operated sludge collection and disposal system, and the construction of a sludge treatment plant and disposal facility and associated biogas plant;
*Provide sanitation facilities including toilets, washing and bathing facilities in up to 10 villages and peri-urban settlements;
*Refurbish up to 4 existing public sanitation facilities within Port Vila; and
Provide training programs to government agencies and community organizations to build capacity and awareness in hygiene and sanitation, operations and maintenance, monitoring, and quality control of urban road networks and sanitation and drainage facilities and contract management.
The upgrading of Port Vilas roads and drainage systems and construction of new sanitation facilities in the peri-urban settlements should commence in October 2014. During construction of the project, short-term disruptions to vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the centre of Port Vila may be expected. Measures to minimize inconvenience to the public will be implemented during construction.
For more information about the Port Vila Urban Development Project please contact the VPMU on Telephone number: 33240 or visit the VPMU website at www.vpmu.gov.vu
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