By Timothy Inifiri Jr.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) through its Project for Development Support of Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs) for Honiara and Noro Ports in Solomon Islands (SI ENC Project), today (10th November) held a launch gathering at the Honiara sea port, for the commencement of the hydrographic survey and nautical chart production of Honiara port.
With the production of Honiara Port’s ENCs planned scheduled from August 2022 – August 2023, the SI ENC Project aims of impacting on improving the port’s credibility, contribute to the safety and effectiveness of maritime transportation in the country and at the same time contribute towards the country’s economic development.
Speaking to the press during the launching, Resident Representative of JICA in the Solomon Islands Mr. Takeshi Watanabe says that his agency is supporting the Solomon Islands Maritime Authority (SIMA) to create ENCs for the Honiara and Noro international ports.
He also said, “ENCs are quite important for this country because Solomon Islands is an archipelago country which means maritime connectivity is so important for the life of the people in this country”.
“Such kind of information [from ENCs] will affect the efficient and effective use of the port for every user and then that efficient and effective use of the port will be able to contribute to the improvement of life of the people in Solomon Islands through economic development or improved connectivity and improved exchange of people and goods”, he added.
With the precise information from the ENCs, Mr Watanabe says it will help boats or vessels to know the depth and assist them landing in the ports.
Also present at the launch gathering today was the survey boat owned by SIMA which was damaged during last year’s civil unrest in the country’s capital, however through the investments of both JICA and SIMA the boat now is repaired and will play a vital role in the project.
“All the preconditions to do the survey is now ready and now we are ready to do the survey”, Mr Watanabe also said.
With the current existing nautical charts for these ports based on low quality hydrographic survey data which does not meet the current international standards, JICA is said to have contributed nearly 400 Million Japanese Yen (approx. SBD $22 Million) to the SI ENC Project.
Project areas include zones of existing nautical charts the with scale of 1/20,000 for both Honiara and Noro, and the channel between Kolombangara Island and Kohinggo Island (Blackett strait) in the Western Province.
SIMA Director Mr.Thierry Nervale said, “With the few years we have been working with the project, the real start is today”.
“For us at SIMA, it is a new capacity because we can deploy easily to do this work and as you saw it is a very technical work, something that is highly technical that we are bringing into the Solomon Islands now with the help of JICA”, said Director Nervale.
From the project, SIMA will be able to update ENCs and paper charts of Noro and Honiara on their own and also produce ENCs and paper charts of local ports in and around the country.
“Next year our officers will go to Japan to process the data and get further training and we will start hydrography for Honiara Port and after we move to Noro Port”.
“With this new technology as you see, we have very detailed information on the bottom of the sea and then all the charts will be electronic and will be available to anyone. So its a big jump in the feature of waters”, he added.
Meanwhile, with the Project expected to complete in 2025, the next couple of years, the SI ENC Project will involve hydrographic surveying, data processing and then the data will be sent to Australia before the charts will be published.