Japan and ADB help Solomon Islands’ maritime transport
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Government of Japan and Asian Development Bank (ADB) will assist the Solomon Islands with preparing a project aimed at improving the efficiency, safety and reliability of the island nation’s maritime transport.
As well as enhancing maritime transport, the assistance will help the Solomon Islands Government’s Ministry of Infrastructure, better manage and finance the implementation of recommendations from previous ADB technical assistance projects. With respect to infrastructure, the Ministry is responsible for all maintenance related to land, sea and air transport.
Major impediments to sustainable shipping in Solomon Islands include incomplete and outdated government policies to promote shipping investment and safe operations, and difficulties in effectively managing infrastructure assets.
The poor condition of infrastructure in Solomon Islands has also increased travel times and raised vehicle and vessel operating costs. Access to rural areas has declined as a result, limiting the contribution of transport to economic growth and poverty reduction.
“The project aims to improve transportation, infrastructure and services, which will help reconnect rural communities with domestic and international markets,” said ADB Pacific Department Transport Specialist, Robert Guild. “This renewed access will contribute to the rebuilding of rural economies, fostering private sector and rural income opportunities, and will assist in restoring basic social services such as health and education to rural areas.”
A $2 million grant from the Japanese Government’s Japan Special Fund will finance the project preparation, with ADB managing the fund. The Solomon Islands Government will finance $500,000 equivalent through domestic resources.
This maritime transport assistance is part of ADB’s current country strategy and program update which supports the Solomon Islands Government’s development plans. In recognition of ADB’s long history of implementing transport sector projects and technical assistance in Solomon Islands, the Government requested, and other development partners agreed, that ADB take the lead in coordinating and implementing aid to transport sector.
Made up of 992 islands and covering a sea area of more than 1.35 million square kilometers, Solomon Islands is the third largest archipelago in the South Pacific and is one of the least developed among ADB’s Pacific developing member countries. It is currently recovering from years of conflict and faces a long period of rehabilitating vital infrastructure and services that were destroyed or have deteriorated due to lack of maintenance, regulation and commercial opportunities. The national economy relies on forestry, fisheries, cocoa and copra production, all carried out in rural areas.