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South Korea grant and loan package to assist Vanuatu shipping, maintenance infrastructure

The Vanuatu Government this week announced a combination grant and loan package from the South Korean Government to improve shipping operations and maintenance infrastructure in Vanuatu.

The Minister for MIPU, Jotham Napat signed an agreement with Korean Government officials in late 2016 to fund new jetties at Pentecost, Tanna and Sola as well as improvements to Aids to Navigation through a grant. Additional funding in the form of a loan has been made available to build a 1000 tonne ship slipway at old Ratard Plantation in Segund Canal, Espiritu Santo.

The proposed slipway site is on land owned by Vanuatu National Provident Fund and Government will need to iron out conditions for the loan before works can commence. Proper tendering processes will need to be followed for construction of the slipway and it is envisaged that operation of the finished facility will be by way of a concession agreement.

A slipway has long been flagged to donors as a way of reducing costs to the domestic shipping and fishing fleets as well as a likely source of foreign revenue. In the words of Ports and Marine Director Henree Worek “it is no longer a dream and is happening”.

Concerns have been raised over the years regarding the high cost of slipping ships for repair in the Santo and Port Vila facilities. Following the release of information of the proposed slipway last week on social media, Nicon Shipyard of Santo, the only slipway in Vanuatu capable of taking larger vessels, closed its doors and made all staff redundant.

Owner of Nicon Shipyard, Nigel Giltrap, cited frustrations dealing with some government departments as a part of the decision he has taken. With the proposed new slipway development Mr Giltrap intends to re-purpose his investment in Vanuatu.

 Photo: Minister Infrastructure and Public Utilities Jotham Napat
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