Greetings to all of you and thank you for accepting our invitation to be involved in this important Ground Breaking Ceremony.

Lets me firstly share our sentiments on this occasion in extending our undivided hearts and prayers toward the people of Ambae, in the aftermath of the volcanic eruption of Mt Lombenben.

It gives me pleasure to finally be able to officially witness Ground Breaking of the country(s most important infrastructure project today.

The ceremony today marks another critical milestones for this particular project, as we continue to work towards fully reconstructing Vanuatu's main gateway airport pavement infrastructure to cater for our term aspiration and needs.

On behalf of the Government, thank you CCECC and you joint Venture partner Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group, for your preparatory works so far as you are now granted possession of site and we can commence construction.

And thank you Airport Vanuatu Limited and Vanuatu Project Management Unit for facilitating the preliminary phases of the project and ensuring that our main gateway airport continue to remain safe and operating given the challenge we have had to overcome over the past two years.

Government wishes to again acknowledge World Bank for its financing facility under the Vanuatu  Aviation Investment Project ( VAIP) of which over 47 Million USD has been awarded to CCECC and its Joint Venture partner specially for reconstruction of Bauerfield International Airport.

As I have stressed in this same room last year following completion of Bauerfield Airport temporary runways repairs; the presents Bauerfield Airport has reached stagnancy with respect to visitors Arrivals from traditional markets.

While it is promising to learn from the Vanuatu Tourism (VTO) and our national airline (Air Vanuatu) recently that the airline are currently reporting some of their best months records with forward booking also looking very positive; this government has determined, in order to further enhance economic and tourism growth, Vanuatu still needs to look beyond our traditional markets and targets.

To ensure that the runway infrastructure investment which government is committing becomes economically viable, associated airport infrastructure will also require attention and significant investments are required to ensure that the whole airport system works well.

Government is currently taking a holistic approach to our airport to our airport infrastructure investment ad I again acknowledge the World Bank funded VAIP project wich facilities other airport project including air navigation aids upgrades, airport fire-fighting equipment upgrade, aviation sector reform,  strengthening of airport operation and management capacity, and airport master planning in addition to the runway project currently underway.

In addition to these investment covered under VAIP, Government is currently planning further upgrades to air maintenance facilities, air catering facilities, fuel terminals; air cargo terminals, and passengers terminals.

Last week, the Council of Ministers approved for my ministry to liaise with the Ministry of lands to acquire more land to facilitate the future development of Bauerfield  Airport's Terminal Complex .

All land required needed to be secured for Bauerfield, Pekoa, and White Grass Airport for the future development of these airports, to meet Government's objectives, have been identified by Airports Limited and will be acquired in the best interests of our nation and it citizens.

The Government wishes to thank the support of all the stakeholders, particularly the touris industry for their  patience and tolerance of the ongoing challenges.

Finally, i wishes to firmly reiterate, this project is the current government's utmost priority and i urge everyone to stand behind the government and treat this project with the greater importance and to work together in unison, as we rebuild better and strong for the future of our nation and generation to come.

May the good lord bless Vanuatu and you all.

 

Thank for your attention .

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