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    Teouma Bridge Reconstruction

    Teouma Bridge Reconstruction

    Reconstruction of the Teouma Bridge on Efate will now officially begin following its ground-breaking ceremony yesterday on Friday 19th April 2024

    Valued at over a billion, the project is expected to be completed by September 2025, through funds from the Japanese Government.

    Prime Minister (PM) Charlot Salwai, Deputy PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Matai Seremiah, Minister of Infrastructure Marc Ati, Japanese Ambassador Okuda Naohisa, officers from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Public Works Department witnessed the ground-breaking.

    The project marks the commencement of the reconstruction of the bridge, which serves as the only access route for over 20,000 people residing in the greater eastern part of Efate, facilitating travel to and from Port Vila City.

    In his remarks, PM Salwai said a CTI Engineering International Co., Ltd, a design and supervision consultant from Japan, was selected to provide consulting services for the project beginning in 2016. However, the project faced delays starting in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and ongoing challenges with land acquisition, which were ultimately resolved in 2022.

    In July 2023, a contract agreement was signed between the Contractor, Dai Nippon Construction with a value of JPY 2.060,000,000, which is equivalent to VT1.7 billion.

    The scope of the work covers reconstruction of the bridge, improvement of approach road, construction of slope protection and Other miscellaneous works.

    “The reconstruction of the bridge will improve connectivity infrastructure, providing safer and faster, all-weather access to rural areas for service delivery. This will stimulate economic growth by enabling rural activities to reach town markets and workplaces, as well as participate in the tourism industry,” said the PM.

    “During the 2-year construction period, we anticipate that some percentage of the project cost will be injected into the local economy. Whenever feasible, we will utilise local materials like aggregate and cement. The project will create job opportunities, with some Ni-Vanuatu individuals expected to be employed directly or indirectly. These positions will priorities skills transfer and the enhancement of local capacity.”

    He mentioned that the Project Consultant for Design and Supervision, CTI Engineering Co., Ltd. (Japan), along with the PWD team, will oversee the project, and should the bridge work not meet their standards, they will require it to be redone without any additional cost to the taxpayer.

    Acting Secretary General of SHEFA Provincial Council, Liah John, said with the increasing population, more individuals are moving beyond peri-urban areas to rural regions of Efate, particularly the eastern part of the islands, seeking livelihoods opportunities, as there is ample land room for development.

     “It is essential to have critical services available in this eastern part, such as hospitals, police stations, banking services, and supermarkets, which many must cross the Teouma Bridge to access in Port Vila City,” said John.

    “The greater eastern part of Efate is one of the most fertile areas on the island, abundant with fruit trees, organic root crops, and vegetables, most of which feed the markets of Port Vila and its surrounding areas.

    “Moreover, the greater eastern part of Efate boasts the best picnic spots with beautiful beaches, cool rivers, and waterfalls. Therefore, the bridge serves as the sole access route, making it possible for us to enjoy these resources in the eastern part of the island.

    “There are several issues that commuters or users of the current bridge face, such as heavy river flows causing parts of the bridge to submerge, inadequate space for vehicles and pedestrians. I believe that the reconstruction of the bridge will address these issues and is crucial to ensuring safe access for everyone, fostering economic and social growth. It signifies the true and enduring partnership between Vanuatu and Japan,” she said.

    Japanese Ambassador Noahisa said they are well aware that the bridge is an indispensable transportation link in the daily lives of the people.

    According to him, the bridge was completely destroyed by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2002. It was rebuilt in 2003 through Japan's Grant Aid Program

    “However, the approach road to the bridge was damaged by flooding caused by Cyclone Pam in 2015. The bridge was temporarily repaired, but risked being destroyed or blocked if another severe flood were to occur.

    "Understanding the anticipated risks posed by the existing conditions of the bridge, Japan had decided to rehabilitate and improve it at the request of the Vanuatu Government.

    “In December 2019, the Exchange of Notes for this project was signed. However, we decided to provide additional financial support and the second Exchange of Notes was signed in March last year, to address project funding shortfalls caused by the soaring fuel and material prices, the COVID 19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, as well as the impact of the recent depreciation of the Japanese currency. This additional financial support will lead to ensuring the implementation of this important project,” he stated.

    By Doddy Morris

    Daily Post Vanuatu