Upgrade of Seghe Airfield in Western Province Underway

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ON October 17, Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare MP attended a ceremony with the High Commissioners of New Zealand and Australia to commence upgrade works at Seghe Airfield in Western province.

The Minister of Communications and Aviation, Hon. Peter Shanel Agovaka MP, senior officials, and members of the Western Provincial Government also attended the event.

The upgrade works are part of the SBD250 million Solomon Islands Provincial Airfield Upgrade project and are funded by the governments of the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, and Australia.

The grass airstrip at Seghe, New Georgia Island, Photo credit @ E365.earth

The construction works will seal the entire airstrip and install ground lighting to ensure that the Solomon Airlines Dash-8 will be able to land at the airstrip more reliably and safely. The project will bring greater connectivity to the Western Province, including improving tourist access to Marovo Lagoon.

The Solomon Islands Provincial Airfield Upgrade Project has also improved the Choiseul Bay airfield in Choiseul Province. The works at the airfield are complete, and they will be handed over in the coming weeks. Both airfield upgrades are being implemented by Downer New Zealand.

There has been a long process to develop the airfields, and over 2022, Downer moved 80,000 metric tons of gravel from Honiara to Seghe and Taro over 22 barge trips. Now that work is under way at Seghe, Downer will engage around 30 local staff from the Seghe area over the course of the airfield upgrade.

Prime Minister Sogavare, MCA Minister, AHC, NZHC and delegation members visiting the Seghe airport upgrade site. Photo credit @ OPMC Press

Prime Minister Sogavare said, “This initiative by the Solomon Islands Government is intended to increase economic benefits from tourism and trade. This will be achieved by upgrading priority airfields, resulting in enhanced reliability and safety of aviation transport infrastructure, increased accessibility to provincial areas, and an enabled environment for trade and investment.”

Prime Minister Sogavare thanked the governments of New Zealand and Australia for their continued support and looked forward to the new travel experience when the two airports were completed.

New Zealand High Commissioner H.E. Jonathan Schwass noted that “New Zealand has supported the aviation sector over a number of years, including supporting the original upgrade of Munda airport. It is a real pleasure to see work at Seghe under way; this is a critical destination for Western Province, and I hope to see it boost the tourism sector here in the Marovo lagoon.”

PM Sogavare (centre) Cake cutting. Photo credit @ OPMC Press

Australian High Commissioner H.E. Rod Hilton said, “Australia is committed to working with our partners and the Solomon Islands community to deliver high-quality, locally-led infrastructure. The upgrades at Taro and Seghe airfields are fantastic examples of utilizing a local workforce. Local participation in projects is central to the ongoing sustainability of infrastructure in the Solomon Islands.”

In his short remarks, the Minister of Communications and Aviation, Hon. Agovaka, stated, “Today is a proud day for the Seghe landowners and communities around Marovo. Your government is hard at work ticking policies on rural infrastructure developments for access and connectivity.”

The Western Province Deputy Premier, Hon. Carlrick Harold Runimetu, emphasized that his provincial government is always keen to be part of the national government’s development projects.

“The upgrade of Seghe Airport will help improve connectivity between Seghe, Munda, Gizo, and Honiara, and in particular, support the tourism industry in the Marovo Lagoon,” said Hon. Carlrick.

Work at Seghe is expected to be completed by June 2024.

OPMC Press

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