By Anita Roberts in Port Vila
Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has instructed Infrastructure Minister Jotham Napat to negotiate the second phase of the Chinese-funded road construction on Tanna, including Malekula.
This road rehabilitation and construction phase 1 started in July 2015 and will take up to five years to complete at a cost of US$50 million.
Napat says he will be leaving for China soon to negotiate the second phase of the project.
The first phase of the project on Tanna covers a 30km road soon to be tar-sealed, starting from the Whitegrass Airport through Lenakel to Green Point.
Along this road, 69 structures will be constructed, including 64 culverts and 5 bridges. The longest steel truss bridge is 21 metres.
A total of 36 culverts have already been constructed with 23 box culverts and 13 slab culverts.
Four culverts and three bridges are under construction. The company that is constructing the road is China Civil Engineering and Construction Cooperation (CCECC).
Minister Napat, who accompanied the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trades, Commerce, Tourism and Industry, Joe Natuman, to Lenakel recently was requested to give an update to the people on the plans of the government on education, health including infrastructure.
He said the second phase covered the road from south Tanna right up to the entrance of Yasur volcano in south-east Tanna.
According to CCECC engineers Chen Lieng and Wu Nana Isaac, the tar sealing of the road under phase I will commence soon, in September.
Once the second phase is completed, there are plans to also tar seal the road that runs from the junction at the Lenakel Stadium to Kings Cross at Whitesands.
Repairs are currently being carried out on this section of the road, thanks to Australian government funding.
Once the road is tar sealed, then the whole island would be covered, Napat told the people.
He said improving roads boosted economic development.