On 17 October, Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare MP joined the High Commissioners of New Zealand and Australia for a ground breaking ceremony in Seghe to mark the start of upgrade works at the Seghe Airfield. The Minister of Communications and Aviation Hon. Peter Shanel Agovaka MP, senior officials, and members of the Western Provincial Government also attended the event.
The upgrade works are part of the SBD250m Solomon Islands Provincial Airfield Upgrade project and are funded by the Governments of Solomon Islands, New Zealand and Australia.
The construction works will seal the entire airstrip and install ground lighting to ensure that the Solomon Airlines Dash-8 will be able to land at the airstrip more reliably and safely. The project will bring greater connectivity to Western Province, including improving tourist access to Marovo Lagoon.
The Solomon Islands Provincial Airfield Upgrade project has also improved the Choiseul Bay airfield in Choiseul Province. Works at the airfield are complete, and it will be handed over in the coming weeks. Both airfield upgrades are being implemented by Downer New Zealand.
There has been a long process to develop the airfields, and over 2022 Downer moved 80,000 tonnes of gravel from Honiara to Seghe and Taro over 22 barge trips. Now that work is under way at Seghe, Downer will engage around 30 local staff from Seghe area over the course of the airfield upgrade.
Prime Minister Sogavare said, “this initiative by the Solomon Islands Government is intended to increase economic benefits from tourism and trade. This will be achieved by upgrading priority airfields, resulting in enhanced reliability and safety of aviation transport infrastructure, increased accessibility to provincial areas and an enabled environment for trade and investment.”
Prime Minister Sogavare thank the governments of New Zealand and Australia for their continued support and looking forward to the new travel experience when the two airports are completed.
New Zealand High Commissioner H.E. Jonathan Schwass noted that “…New Zealand has supported the aviation sector over a number of years, including supporting the original upgrade of Munda airport. It is a real pleasure to see work at Seghe under way – this is a critical destination for Western Province and I hope to see it boost the tourism sector here in the Marovo lagoon.”
Australian High Commissioner H.E. Rod Hilton said “Australia is committed to working with our partners and the Solomon Islands community to deliver high-quality, locally-led infrastructure. The upgrades at Taro and Seghe airfields are fantastic examples of utilising a local workforce. Local participation in projects is central to the ongoing sustainability of infrastructure in Solomon Islands.”
In his short remarks, the Minister of Communications and Aviation, Hon. Agovaka stated, “today is a proud day for the Seghe landowners and communities around Marovo. Your government is hard at work ticking policies on rural infrastructure developments for access and connectivity.”
The Western Province Deputy Premier Hon. Carlrick Harold Runimetu emphasized, his Provincial government is always keen to be part of the National Government’s development projects.
“The upgrade of Seghe Airport will help improve connectivity between Seghe, Munda, Gizo and Honiara and in particular to support the tourism industry in the Marovo Lagoon,” said Hon. Carlrick.
Work at Seghe is expected to be completed by June 2024.
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