Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Works Utilities

1.1 Overview

Infrastructure plays a vital role in generating economic growth. For many years, Vanuatu has suffered from inadequate physical infrastructure as a result of insufficient government investment. Costs for electricity, water, and port services in Vanuatu are among the highest in the Pacific island countries. The state of infrastructure and provision of associated services in Vanuatu is mixed, although in some areas policy reform and private sector participation have reduced costs and increased efficiency through competition. The government has recently been increasing its focus on its core roles of regulation-for example, through Utilities Regulatory Authority-and promotion of private sector provision of services, with significant positive outcomes in telecommunications and air services. It has also listed strategies for increasing the reliability, accessibility, and quality of infrastructure services in a planning matrix entitled planning Long, Acting Short.

1.2 Institutional Settings

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities is responsible for the public infrastructure of the government. It has a leadership role and focuses on policies and strategic directions for the departments. It coordinates the activities of the departments, working relationship with other ministries and statutory. The ministry’s functions are managed through the following departments:

  • Public Works Department: its main office is located in Port Vila and it has subdivisions in all provinces
  • Civil Aviation Authority
  • Ports and Marine Department
  • Meteorological Service Department

The following statutory bodies are also under the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities: Air Vanuatu Limited, Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL), Airports Vanuatu Limited (AVL), Vanuatu Post Limited (VPL), Ifira Wharf Stevedoring (IWS), Northern Island Stevedoring Company Limited (NISCOL), and Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO).
The Ministry’s main function, roles and responsibilities are summarized as follows;

  • Provide policy and services in public infrastructure, mainly in national roads, water supply, ports and airports
  • Provides policy and regulation in aviation
  • Provide policy and services in meteorological services
  • Provide policy and regulation in the shipping industry
  • Participate in Council of Ministers (CoM) meetings and seek approval and / or awareness of the CoM as requested on relevant matters pertaining to the MIPU
  • Represent the ministry on the following boards and councils; Air Vanuatu Limited, VMA, TVl, AVL,VPL,IWS,NISCOL and PASO
  • Overview the activities and performance of the Director General, Directors and senior managers through their performance agreements
  • Establish and amend policies regarding departments and government statutory bodies under MIPU
  • Participate in Development Committee of officials (DCO) meetings
  • Manage the MIPU
  • Implement and update the Corporate Plan and Human Resource Development Plan
  • Prepare the Ministry’s Annual Plan
  • Review planning and performance reports prepared by the departments

Civil Aviation Authority

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu (CAAV) discharges its duties and responsibilities in accordance with Civil Aviation laws of Vanuatu CAP 258 and the specific operating rules, satisfying the Vanuatu Government policy and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and requirement.
The Civil Aviation Authority presently has five (5) staff:

  • Ni-Vanuatu Director
  • Assistant Director
  • Personal Licensing officer
  • Airworthiness officer
  • Aviation security officer
  • Senior secretary accountant
  • Secretary typist/librarian
  • Cleaner

Meteorological Services

The Vanuatu Meteorological service is a government department, established by the Meteorological Act no. 04 of 1989. It ensures the effective cooperation in the development of the science of meteorology and climate and other inter-related disciplines for the benefits of the people of Vanuatu.
The roles of the Vanuatu Meteorological Office;

  • Weather observers to routinely observe and record the weather conditions pertaining at set times and selected locations and disseminate information both locally and globally
  • Disseminate processed and raw meteorological data and information to individuals and authorities to make decision regarding weather conditions prevailing
  • Prepare and disseminate tropical advises an warnings to the public and any person or organization requesting the
  • Coordinate and provide advice on all climate change related issues

Shipping Services
The Department of Ports and Harbor is responsible for operation and management of the international ports of Port Vila, Luganville and other declared ports.  Its major  function is to provides adequate infrastructure and facilitates to satisfaction or Ports users (customers), especially shipping companies and consignees. The Department employs 55 people in Port Vila and Luganville. Their services provides pilotages for international vessels safety of domestic shipping including provision of wharves and ports
In 2007, after the parliament repeal the VMA Act, the Government through the office of the Prime Minister decides that Ports and Harbor establish a licensing section to implement Cap 53.
Public Works
In Vanuatu, there are three (3) organizations that have ownership over the roads;

  • National Government
  • Municipality and
  • Provincial Government
  • Department of Public Works is responsible for the national roads
  • The two municipalities are responsible for the roads in the city
  • Provincial roads are feeder roads in the islands, adjacent to the main national roads

1.3 Development

Millennium Challenge Corporation
In March of 2006, the Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a five-year, $65.69 million Compact with the Government of Vanuatu to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth by targeting the country's poor transportation infrastructure. Vanuatu's MCA Program consist of two principal components:
•    civil works for the reconstruction of priority transport infrastructure on eight islands, covering roads, wharfs, airstrips, and warehouse; and
•    Institutional strengthening efforts in Vanuatu's Public Works Department, including the provision of plant and equipment for maintenance to facilitate the sustainability and maintenance of infrastructure assets.
However due to various unforeseen economic circumstances the scope of work has been reduces to funding only two road projects on the two main islands namely; Efate and Santo. There is also a reduction is the scope of the institutional strengthening component of the program.
Public Works Department

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities has announced the names of the companies that have prequalified to improve and maintain road transport infrastructure on Ambae, Malekula and Tanna under the Vanuatu Transport Sector Support Programme (VTSSP).

In a statement the government publicly announced the names of the following companies granted approval by the Tenders Board:

  • Flame Tree Development Ltd
  • Dinh Trading Ltd
  • Downer Edi Ltd
  • Fletcher Construction Ltd
  • Enterprise Dinh Van Tu
  • Melanesian Construction & Industry Ltd
  • Earthquip Ltd
  • Kwang Sing 1 Ltd

In the Shipping sector, the domestic wharf at Port Vila underwent a major rehabilitation and extension. It was made possible through Japan’s General Grant Aid scheme. The improved facilities of the port now comply with world maritime standards and strengthened maritime transportation capacity. Future promotion of trade and tourism of Vanuatu will be enhanced by this rehabilitation work and contribute towards realizing steady economic development and improving people’s livelihood.

Utilities Regulatory Authority

The electricity is functioning well in the urban and peri-urban areas, but coverage in rural area is poor. The URA was set up under Utilities Regulatory Authority Act No. 11 of 2007. It is independent from the government and its purpose is to ensure safe, reliable and affordable water and electricity.
It monitors the electricity concession contracts for Port Vila, Luganville, Tanna and Malekula. It will renegotiate prices (tariffs) under the rules of the existing contacts, it manages consumer complaints and it advises the government.
The Utilities Regulatory Authority (URA) published yesterday its final decision as part of its Vanuatu Electricity Tariff Review. A key part of the electricity tariff decision is a reduction in the electricity tariff for small domestic customers (<60 kWh a month) by 49%.
Water Supply
All water supply infrastructure assets in Vanuatu are owned by the state. In 1994, the government entered into a contract with UNELCO to supply water to Port Vila for 40 years.  Water supply in luganville santo, Lakatoro Malekula and isangel Tanna is managed by PWD.  The Utilities Regulatory Act regulates UNELCO and its service delivery. In rural areas, water supply is the responsibility of the Department of Geology, Mines and Water Resources. The current National Rural Water Supply Program is intended to provide potable water to entire rural population, based on community access to water rather than individual household connections. Despite government commitment to this program, however, many rural communities still lack an adequate water supply. The Vanuatu National Water Strategy 2008-2018, prepared under NZAID funding was recently released and endorsed by the government, but is now waiting for additional funding.

Author: Administrator