No runway rebuild before August

REBUILDING the Bauerfield International runway will not begin before August at the earliest, business leaders said this week.

They said it was unlikely that the runway would be completed before the last quarter of 2018.

An aviation expert said the tenderer, China Civil Engineering and Construction (CCECC) and its joint venture company Northwest Civil Airport Construction Group (NCACG), are working very hard to get the work commenced.

“The problem at present is that they have not appointed a company of quality engineers needed to assess the base materials needed in runway construction,” he said.

“This not like building a road – the quality of the materials must be far superior and it needs to be tested to ensure the quality is up to the required standards.

“This is not a major problem at this stage, but a few cracks have appeared in the planning.”.

THe said the aggregate can only come from Fiji, Noumea, Australia or Papua New Guinea. Because of distance and cost, Fiji and Noumea are the likely candidates, but no decision has yet been made

Vanuatu Project Management Unit Public Relations Officer, Kiery Manassah, denied this and said up to 78,000 cubic tonnes of aggregate will come in from Fiji for the works.

“There won’t be any difficulties bringing these in through Mele Bay as reported recently,” he said.

But he agreed that there will have to be pylons driven into the water’s edge at Mele Bay to secure the barge and then pylons will have to placed across the sand and a conveyor belt built from the water to the road to load the trucks.

“As much of the works that are already happening around the main town areas, like the Phase 1 works under the Port Vila Urban Development Project (PVUDP), moving aggregates from Mele Bay and through the northern end of the town should not pose any major hassles.

“Other materials will be sourced locally and overseas.

“Besides, a lot of this stuff will be happening at night so there should not be any issues with traffic.”

Mr Manassah said the CCECC company has three months to mobilise from the time of the signing of the contract.

“The actual work will maybe start in August and what they are doing now is sending out orders for the materials and equipment to China or some in Asia because they have companies there,” he said.

“So these things are on their way and at the same time they are looking for the places available for the materials to be put on.

“They also have to negotiate with land owners or lease holders for them to have a camping site to live while working.”

He said the CCECC and NCAACG have to come up with traffic management plans and submit those to supervising engineers for approval before they can begin the transport work.

“Other quarry materials for the sub-base and base will be sourced locally while materials not readily available locally will be imported from China,” he said.

Mr Manassah confirmed eight companies bid for the airport works which come in two separate lots.

Lot 1 is for Bauerfield airport rehabilitation, which forms the major bulk of the works while Lot 2 deals with Pekoa airport in Santo and Whitegrass airport in Tanna.

The contract period for the Bauerfield airport is 340 days which while Lot 2 works period is 240 days and 730 days defects notification period.

“The rehabilitation works might take only three months to complete but because the contractor has to work in an operational airport they will need to work closely with AVL, Air Vanuatu and other key stakeholders to identify ‘operational windows’ so that the airport continues to operate normally.

“730 days is the defects period and is like the warranty of an item in a shop.

“Should there be any damage within that period the contractor must fix that,” said Mr Manassah.

“The total money for the Vanuatu Aviation Investment Project is USD$59.8 million.”

Mr Manassah said part of the money will be used to purchase and install new navigational aids at Bauerfield, Whitegrass and Pekoa,  re tenders and safety equipment, an Aviation Sector Strategy Plan, an Airport Master Plan and AVL training needs assessment, training, technical assistance.

“The biggest part of the money will go towards Bauerfield rehabilitation,” he said.


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