By Timothy Inifiri Jr.
Government officials, Foreign dignitaries together with workers and the surrounding communities of the Tina River today witnessed the official Tina River Hydropower Development Project (TRHDP) groundbreaking ceremony at the project’s site in Central Guadalcanal.
Despite the slight rainfall there was a huge attendance from the public who witnessed the event and were also welcomed and entertained by members of the surrounding communities performing their traditional welcome, presenting gifts and performing traditional dances.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare acknowledges the tireless efforts of many that have assisted for several years driving the project to get to where it is today.
“After a period of tension, which left our economy weakened and the spirit of communities desperate; the idea to host a development that would benefit the people, the economy and in turn, the country, was born”, said PM Sogavare.
“Tina was a part of this solution; a project to lower the cost of electricity for our people through renewable energy, build critical basic infrastructure for communities, provide jobs for our people and bring foreign investment into the country”, he added.
The project work which is divided into four different components namely the hydropower facility, the access road, transmission lines and technical assistance are expected to reach a total cost of around US$240 million.
“Not only are we building a world class hydropower facility that will provide our people with clean, more reliable and affordable electricity, but we have also been investing in the future of our rural communities through the successful implementation of the Community Benefit Sharing Project”, said Sogavare stressed.
The first ever large-scale infrastructure to be developed under a public-private partnership (PPP) in the country, involved six financing organisations including Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), The World Bank, Australian Government, Green Climate Fund (GCF), Korea-EX-IM Economic Development Cooperation Fund (ECDCF) and Asian Development Bank, all coming together through a combination of loans and grants.
The Prime Minister also said that the ceremony marks another huge milestone and with few construction activities already taken place, the next few years of Tina construction will pave the way for further investment and new jobs for the people which will help the economy build back better.
Approved by the World Bank back in 2017, the hydropower project paves the way for the country to exceed its 2025 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target with work on the hydropower project is being carried out by private contractor Tina Hydro Limited (THL) in partnership with world’s leading engineering firm, Hyundai Engineering Company from Korea.
Speaking during the event, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of THL, Mr Yong Hoon Chang, shared his appreciation to the Solomon Islands Government for their dedicated support towards the project especially through the recent global pandemic.
“Tina, as the national flagship project when completed, will help ensure the people of Solomon Islands have stable electricity access with a more affordable tariff; making for a better future”.
Mr Chang also promised that THL together with Hyundai Engineering Company is committed to complete the hydropower project for the people of this nation.
Meanwhile, with the country’s electrical costs among the highest in the world, the first of its kind large utility-scale renewable energy project in the country when completed and up and running, will have the potential to significantly reduce the price of electricity and lessen reliance on expensive imported diesel and at the same time can lead to an increase in the electrification rate, particularly for households.