By Francis Pituvaka MFMR Communication officer
The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources will receive the keys to the laboratory and office block of a new freshwater fish hatchery from the contractors R & D Enterprises this morning at Aruligo North West Guadalcanal.
The building and covered fish tanks are part of Phase 1 of the MFMR Hatchery project that is being built at government owned land at Aruligo.
Work started in September 2019 and the company contracted to do the first phase of the project was determined to complete the building and pools within the timeframe given.
The progress of work however, was affected by the Covid 19 State of Emergency.
But despite the challenges faced, it did little to dampen the spirits of a group of dedicated government officers and contractors who continue to work on activities to construct the hatchery.
The first phase includes a laboratory, office, covered area of tanks for producing juvenile fish and a perimeter fence.
A team comprising staff of the Ministry of Fisheries conducted a site visit recently to see first-hand where the project had reached and were satisfied with the outcome.
Mr Reuben Patrick, the engineer for R&D Enterprises who were contracted to construct the building and covered fish tanks confirmed to the visiting MFMR team that work was nearing completion with only the finishing touches on the building and tanks left to be done.
Work on the perimeter fence is also well underway with the contractor Bisivotu Enterprises Ltd employing locals from the nearby communities as labourers to build the fence.
Mr Mark Tova from Bisivotu Enterprises Ltd said “our people in the Aruligo area have been very willing to participate in this project and are happy to see this development going ahead in our area”.
A woman who was engaged to do preparatory work at the site for Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) clearance said with this project, people in the surrounding communities are beginning to benefit from the project.
It is expected that more locals will be employed when Phase 2 works begin. Construction on the phase 2 of the project will include some large outdoor fish ponds behind the fence and the water and power supplies for the facility. Construction is expected to be completed in 2020.
An elder who was on site when MFMR officers visited last week said that this project in Northwest Guadalcanal Constituency will be a magnet for other proposed development in region.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is optimistic this project will provide much needed facilities it needed to import and manage an improved strain of tilapia to be available for rural fish farmers. This is driven by MFMRs policy to develop an aquaculture sector that supports rural livelihoods, food security and economic returns.
Staff of the Aquaculture and Project Management Divisions in the MFMR and Project Manager Mr Paul Namha of PNCosting, supported by colleagues in the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Ministry for Infrastructure and Development and the Guadalcanal Provincial Government are working tirelessly to make sure that the project continues even during the Covid 19 State of Emergency situation.
The Aruligo freshwater fish hatchery is jointly funded by the New Zealand funded MSSIF Programme and the Solomon Islands Government.