The FINANCIAL — Work underway to improve Tonga’s transport sector has received a significant boost with US$4 million in additional funding approved on September 29 by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors to strengthen the country’s transport and associated administrative systems.
The new funding will enable the continuation of work begun in 2005 through the Transport Sector Consolidation Project to deliver better and safer travel, and a stronger Ministry of Infrastructure and Tourism, according to the World Bank.
“Isolation and dispersed islands create many challenges for Tonga’s development and maintenance of sustainable transport networks,” said Franz Drees-Gross, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands. “This additional funding will help the Government of Tonga continue to deliver safer and more reliable ways of getting around for the people of Tonga.”
Most activities funded through this additional financing are a continuation of existing activities under the Transport Sector Consolidation Project, with a stronger focus on maritime and land transport safety.
Key investments in maritime infrastructure and safety will include additional maritime navigation aids for Eua, Ha’apai, Vava’u and the Niuas; equipment for marine safety, maintenance and environmental protection and; improvements to wharves and passenger and cargo facilities. Road transport activities will include minor roadworks to address safety issues; and road safety awareness and education campaigns on such critical issues as the importance of child safety seats in vehicles.
The project has also allocated US$1.34 million of the additional funding to build the skills and capacity of staff in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Tourism in the areas of asset management; maritime, roads, and traffic safety; change management; and information and communications technology systems – all aimed at creating a sustainable and effective ministry.
The additional funding is a combination of US$2 million grant and US$2 million credit provided through the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA). The Government of Tonga will provide an additional US$2 million in funds. This is the second installment of funding, following a significant expansion of the project in 2010, which included US$10.3 million in grant financing from the Australian Government.