Solomon Islands signs Japan agreement to improve airport

SOLOMON ISLANDS is on its way to improve the condition of its only international airport to meet international standards. The Solomon Islands government last week signed a US$6.9 million grant agreement with Japan to upgrade the Honiara International Airport at Henderson Field. The agreement was signed by Solomon Islands’ Foreign Affairs Minister Laurie Chan and the Charge de Affaires of the Embassy of Japan in Honiara, Katsushiko Kubo.

The money will be used to upgrade the runway overlay pavement, including sloppy taxiways, the repair of cracks in the existing pavements, the replacement of runway lights and the approach lighting system.

The condition at Honiara International Airport has been slowly deteriorating since the ethnic tension four years ago. Planned improvements to the runway and other navigational equipment were halted when contractors left the country for security reasons leaving it to its current condition.

At the signing ceremony, Mr. Kubo said the assistance is an extension of economic cooperation and genuine expression of the goodwill of the people of Japan and Solomon Islands.

Japan has been the main financier in the improvements of Honiara International Airport which included the funding of the current tarmac building, the watch tower and other navigational equipment at the airport.

“Japan recognizes the importance of maintaining the runway at Honiara International Airport to meet international standards,” said Mr. Kubo.

Foreign Affairs Minister Laurie Chan thanked the Japanese government and people describing the assistance as very timely especially when the world is trying to combat terrorism and the need to provide comfortable and safe traveling.

Work on the airport runway will start soon and is expected to be completed by March 2005.

Another step the Solomon Islands government is taking to make airports free of possible terrorism attacks and threats is the training of a special unit within the local police service under the supervision of the Regional Assistance Mission experts to check and monitor the movement of people in and out of Honiara and to provide a 24 hour service around the airport vicinity and facilities.

eTN Solomon Islands
author: Charles Kereau

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