Tuvalu’s premier, Enele Sopoaga, says he would like to see the private sector take a role in helping economic development and fighting climate change in his country. Tuvalu is considered one of the most threatened Pacific Island nations because of rising sea levels due to climate change. Mr Sopoaga told Pacific Trade and Invest that Tuvalu was working on many fronts to combat the effects of climate change.
He said the private sector could be instrumental in helping create economic resilience. Mr Sopoaga said traditional products like toddy or viscous coconut sugar syrup have great potential. He said coconut oil and breadfruit were also promising candidates for exports with the right kind of processing and packaging inputs to develop them. The Prime Minister said there were no supply issues because of the abundance of coconut trees and the communities’ readiness in producing toddy for sale. “One coconut can produce as much as five litres of toddy,” he said. Mr Sopoaga believes the product has good export potential. The government has had samples assayed at the laboratories of the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva, Fiji and have developed a nutrition label in preparation for exports.
5th Issue – The Funafuti dancing group performing at a function to celebrate the opening of the new airport terminal last week at the Vaiaku Falekaupule.
(Rev Dr. Kitiona Tausi)
The Board of Directors of the Tuvalu Broadcasting Corporation has endorsed a proposal by the Management of the Corporation to operate a broadcast television. In discussing the issue, the directors thought it would be a good idea and a very timely initiative to coincide with the Forum of Leaders Meeting to be held on Funafuti, Tuvalu sometimes in September 2019.
The Board supported the proposal and requested the Management to submit the proposal to the Office of the Prime Minister for appropriate action.
The Chief Engineer of Radio Tuvalu, Mr Stanley Manao convinced the Board that it will not be a very complicated set up, but a very simple one which may cost between US$500.00 – US$600.00. Mr Manao confirmed to the Chairman of the Board, Rev Dr. Kitiona Tausi) this morning that the proposal has been submitted and a positive response has also been received from the zoffice of the Prime Minister. Mr Manao said he received a letter from th Office of the Prime Minister saying that the proposal has been forwarded to the Ministry of Finance to secure the required funds.
The Board of Directors together with the Management hope that funds can be secured as early as possible to ensure that the corporation has ample times to make necessary preparation and especially the training of its staff for the work.
The Minister of Communications and Transport Hon. Monise Laafai, officially opened the Funafuti International Airport’s new terminal on Wednesday morning, 28 February at the Vaiaku Falekaupule. The function in fact began with a special service to dedicate the building which was conducted by Rev Penitusi Taeia, the President of the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvau.
Attending the ceremony were government dignitaries, representative from public corporations, non-government organizations, religious bodies and island communities. The Head of State, Governor General, His Excellency Iakoba Taeia Italeli and spouse, government ministers and spouses, the wife of the Speaker to Parliament, Mee O. Tausi, MPs and their wives.
In his opening remarks, Hon. Laafai said: ‘I am truly honored and privileged to stand here as a representative of the Tuvalu Government, to deliver the keynote address for the official opening of the Funafuti International Airport terminal.”
“Before I proceed, I would like to pay my respect to the people of this land – the living and the dead, for the opportunity to use this land for significant development project.”
‘Today’, the Minister said, ‘marks another milestone in the history of our aviation sector.
“In November, last year, we officially became the 192 member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In December, the same year, we witnessed the signing of the Air Service Agreement between Tuvalu and the Republic of Kiribati where we agreed to open our skies for Air Kiribati to start flying to Tuvalu.
I am pleased to announce that Air Kiribati will commence its first commercial flight on 21 March 2018, with two promotional flights preceding that, which have been scheduled to come on 14 and 17 March.”
“Now we are here to witness the opening of our very new airport terminal. Soon we will have a new air control tower building and a better and safer airstrip which are still in progress.”
All these new developments in our aviation sector according to Hon. Laafai, were part and parcel of the Government’s commitments toward improving air service in Tuvalu.
In the aviation industry, he said, such building plays a key role in the smooth and safe movements of passengers and cargoes.
“Indeed, with time is now of the essence to both air service operators and travelers, a well-designed and well-equipped terminal is critically important.”
“For those of us who have had the opportunity to travel to other destinations around the globe, we have witnessed, and sometimes marveled about, the complexity and magnitude of airport operation,”
Hon. Laafai on behalf of the people and the Government of Tuvalu extended his most gratitude to the World Bank, through Mr. Lasse Melgaard, the World Bank Representative for the South Pacific and Country Director for Tuvalu based in Suva, for the extraordinary support in funding the construction of this world standard airport terminal.
In the same vein, the Minister also extended his huge fakafetai lasi (thank you) to the Contractor Reeves International and CCB Envico (JV) through Mr. Brian Oman, the site manager, for the good work and fine workmanship.
“I know that we have had some difficulties during the construction phase due to unforeseen circumstances, but your patience and unwavering commitment has finally paid off,” said Hon. Laafai.
Mr. Lasse Melgaard, the World Bank representative also made a speech at the function. He said “This isn’t just a terminal – it is the gateway to Tuvalu for tourists, seafarers, official visitors and students, all coming and going from this central transport hub.”
“Investment in airports is crucial, not just for function, but also for form, as they are usually the first and last thing visitors see when visiting a country,”
“As we can see, the terminal’s design marries aesthetics, comfort and conformity with all the safety and security standards of a modern airport. All too often the sense of local culture is lost in new infrastructure, so it’s heartening to see elements including colorful walls and timber featuring prominently.”
He went on to say that the terminal is also an example of sustainability and resilience, with its natural ventilation system and an 800,000-liter rainwater tank for times of drought.
Mr. Melgaard also said that additional storage and handling facilities have also been incorporated to enable better response following natural disasters. The complexities of remoteness and the sheer amount of materials required for the building posed a number of challenges, and much blood, sweat and tears went into overcoming the hurdles in creating this travel hub.
In the field of aviation, he said, “I should note that Tuvalu is making headways in other areas as well. We are proud to have supported Tuvalu’s efforts in becoming the newest member in the world of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).”
He said this will provide Tuvalu a voice at international aviation dialogues, and access to ICAO’s guidance and support on aviation policy development, capacity-building, and infrastructure development planning.
Mr. Melgaard also took the opportunity to reaffirm the World Bank’s commitment to working with the Government of Tuvalu to meet development challenges head-on.
“We are partnering with you in outer island development, ICT, aviation, fisheries, energy, and policy reforms to ensure secondary school fees, reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases, strengthen the sustainability of public finances and encouraging a more robust banking sector.”
He also acknowledged the work of each and every Tuvaluan who worked with Reeves/CCB team on the building – you should feel very proud of what you’ve built here.
However, Mr. Brian Oman, the site manager stood on behalf of the project manager of the Contractor Reeves International and CCB Envico JV, to convey his specials thanks to everyone, the workers and the community for their helpful and friendly making the work went well and much easier.
After the speeches, all the invited guests moved to the new terminal to witness the unveiling of the plague by the Hon. Monise Laafai, and the cutting of the ribbon by the Governor General, His Excellency Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli, the World Bank representative, Mr. Melgaard, and the Acting Prime Minister Hon. Namoliki S Neemia.
Followed after was the handing over of the keys to Hon. Laafai by the site-manager Mr. Oman.
lounges, proper immigration, quarantine and custom clearance facilities, a sick-bay for health service, a space for duty free shop and of course a bigger VIP lounge that could cater large numbers of visiting and out-going dignitaries.
From there, all the invited guests had a tour of the building in which KMT News personnel witnessed all the basic airport facilities that include a more spacious departure and arrival
The new terminal, according to Hon. Laafai, will not be used until two weeks as there are interior decorations and furnishing that need to be done before we could actually start using it.
The A$5.07 million-dollar-project was funded by the World Bank
That same evening, the Chief Guest, the Hon. Minister of Communication and Transport, Monise Laafai hosted a dinner at the Funafut Lagoon Hotel after which there were entertainments of local dancing provided by the community of Funafuti and Nukulaelae yp highlight the night.
Trainees at the Tuvalu Maritime Training Institute looked after the catering
There were three items from each dancing group and then the night was rounded up with speeches from the host of the evening, Hon Monise Laafai and the Acting Prime Minister, Hon Namoliki Sualiki who both thanked the two communities for the wonderful performance.
APPEAL FOR DONATIONS FOR CHURCH BUILDING
The Vaiaku Vaialofa Church Congregation is appealing for donations towards the construction of its new church building. This congregation is a member of the mainline Christian Church in Tuvalu, the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu which is a member of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), the Council for World Mission (CWM)
The Prime Minister of Tuvalu is looking forward to Tuvalu’s hosting of two important meetings, one to be held this year and the other one to be held next year. He said Tuvalu will be well-prepared for these meetings. The first meeting will be the meeting of Polynesian Leaders which will take place in the last week of June 2018 and the second meeting, the Pacific Forum of Leaders Meeting is expected to be held sometimes in September 2019. Hon Sopoaga said although Tuvalu is a very small country, he is quite confident that Tuvalu can do it. “There are a lot of preparations to be done and “I can see that we are on track”, said the Prime Minister.
Apart from the requirement for accommodations, works on the Queen Elizabeth II Park are progressing well as well as the construction of 9 bungalows at the Park. Tuvalu is financing all these works and hopefully some assistance could be forthcoming from our friends like the Republic of China on Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia and perhaps, Turkey and Japan and there may be others,” said the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister also confirmed that among the agenda of the Polynesia Leaders Meeting will be issues on health security, energy, marine resources and the issue of protecting our land from foreign. One very important issue to be discussed is the impacts of climate change on small islands lika Tuvalu.
During this Polynesian Leaders’ Meeting, Hon Sopoaga said “I will seek the support of these Polynesian countries in the case of Tuvalu overstayers in New Zealand to have these overstayers processed their immigration papers and to be allowed to permanently reside in New Zealand”.
With the Forum of Leaders Meeting, the Prime Minister, Hon Sopoaga said ‘it is an opportunity for some Tuvaluans to learn and experience such high level meeting like this”. He said that the Forum Secretariat has agreed to finance four government officials to go to Suva, Fiji to be trained on how to organize meetings, how to attend to participants’ requirement, how to prepare papers for the meeting and also checking on participants’ accommodations, and issues relating to security.
He confirmed that these selected officers will also attend this year’s Forum of Leaders Meeting in Nauru to observe and experience the conduct of the meeting.
Construction work on the new terminal have now completed and the Contractor, Reeves International and CCB ENVICO which is a Joint Venture, are now ready to formally handover to the Government of Tuvalu.
Tuvalu Aviation Investment Project Manager Mr Vitoli Iosefa reports that before handing over the building and for the benefit of all stakeholders, the Contractor’s Site Manager conducted an induction tour of the building to show and explain to all stakeholders the important facilities within the new terminal.
Mr Iosefa adds that a tentative programme for the official opening of the building has been prepared by a task force comprising of representatives from stakeholders and is being reviewed by Cabinet. The official opening is scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday 28 February
The 5.07 million Australian dollar-project was funded by the World Bank through its grant to the Government of Tuvalu.
Whilst the new terminal was under construction all airport services were temporarily being re-located to the Vaiaku Falekaupule.
The new airport terminal today, Tuesday 27 February 2018. Photo by Ms Sauiluma K. TausiTe fale pasese o vakalele fou i te aso nei, Asolua po 27 Fepuali 2018.
The Prime Minister, Hon Enele Sosene Sopoaga in a press conference last week on 23 February 2018, confirmed that funds for the work boat harbours for Nukulaelae, Nanumaga, Niutao and Nui may be secured and construction can begin this year or next year. The Project Manager for the Outer Islands Maritime Infrastructure, Mr Vete Sakaio confirmed that the work boat harbour at Nukulaelae will start construction sometimes in April/May this year and to be financed by the Asian Development Bank at a cost of about AU$13 million.
An engineering company in Mainland China has won the contract to construct the workboat harbour on Nukulaelae in May 2018. The company is named “The China Civil Engineering Construction Company” and is in joint venture with a company in Papua New Guinea ‘The Navae Construction Company”. Mr Sakaio got the opportunity to go to Papua New Guinea to see the concrete forms that are constructed by the Navae Construction Company. The concrete forms are part of the project.
Left-Right: Ms Kaimalie Kino, the Accountant of the Project and Project Manager, Mr Vete Sakaio. Photo by Kitiona Tausi
Tuvalu has been very unfortunate for so many years to have only one air link exit and this was through Fiji. Tuvalu has an exclusive agreement with Air Fiji as the sole airline that operates between Fiji and Tuvalu. This means that to travel overseas, you have to go through Fiji.
Towards the end of last year, 2017, the Government of the Republic of Kiribati decided to open up a new air link to enable Tuvaluans to have a new option to exit to other overseas countries. This is through the operation of its national carrier, Air Kiribati Limited.
Thus, a Kiribati Government delegation which included Air Kiribati high officials arrived in Tuvalu to discuss with government about opening up a new air link between Tuvalu and Kiribati. This air link will also provide a new exit for Tuvalu travelers to continue further to other overseas countries like, Australia, New Zealand, other Pacific countries and also Asia, Europe and the Americas.
(Members of the delegation from Kiribati at the Funafuti Lagoon Hotel and Rev Dr. Kitiona Tausi)
The Kiribati delegation met with government officials and an Air Service Agreement was signed which allow Air Kiribati to operate between Tuvalu and Kiribati. The commercial agreement that will detail the operation is yet to be discussed between the Tuvalu Government and the Air Kiribati Limited. If everything goes well, it is possible that the inaugural flight between Kiribati and Tuvalu may take place in February or in early March 2018.
Air Kiribati plans to operate its new aircraft, DASH 8 that can carry a maximum capacity of 37 passengers and freights. The Government of Kiribati has also a plan to operate to Fiji and negotiations with the Government of Fiji is continuing. If this arrangement is successful, it is possible that Air Kiribati will have a much lower airfare compared to what Air Fiji is levying.
(Air Kiribati’s DASH 8 Aircraft parking at the Funafuti International Airport)