Hon. Prime Minister marked the beginning of construction works for the port upgrade project

27 October 2022

Nuku’alofa- The Nuku’alofa Port Upgrade Project will rehabilitate, renew and expand the existing infrastructure of the only international cargo port in Tonga and will also improve the management and operations practices of its Port Authority, Prime Minister Hon. Hu’akavameiliku told guests during the groundbreaking ceremony at the Queen Salote Wharf on Wednesday 26 October, 2022.

“The project is not only aligned with the Government strategic priority of providing a safer, more reliable and more affordable transport infrastructure and services in Tonga, but also addresses some Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) operational priorities, such as regional cooperation and integration (RCI), climate change and disaster resilience.”

This project will deliver three key outputs including the existing port infrastructure; the extension of the international cargo wharves and improvement in port operations and management.

The port infrastructure will include re-instatement of the top surface (deck) of the existing international cargo wharf 1; rehabilitation works for both international and domestic wharf; reorganizing and reconstruction of the container yard and rehabilitation of the port auxiliary infrastructure, not only to allow the extension of the life of the infrastructure but to increase the port capacity and improve safety and lower operation and maintenance costs.

The extension will include a 50 metre to the international cargo wharf 2; construction of four mooring/berthing dolphins for safer berthing and moorings of vessels during loading and unloading operations. This will also include the relocation of a channel navigator marker.

“This will allow the deployment of larger vessels and result in reduced vessel operating costs and sea freight costs; reducing the cost of importing and exporting goods thus contributing to the economic development of the nation.”

The Hon. Prime Minister believed that this will encourage regional freight transportation, especially to neighbouring island states with connecting shipping routes such as the Cook Islands and Samoa, and with Tonga’s main trading partners, including Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

The construction works for the port upgrade project of the Queen Salote International Wharf, co funded by direct investments from the ADB and the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP), was last upgraded in 1998, 24 years ago. Some parts of the wharf dated back to 1967 when it was originally constructed.

“Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, the project has managed to navigate through those challenges and progress forward through the collective efforts of all stakeholders.”

Hon Hu’akavameiliku stated that at the completion of this project, Tonga will many steps closer to fulfilling our economic development potential as Tonga’s port of entry becomes more efficient and facilitates the import and export of goods at the greater speed.

He said that Government looks forward to working closely with the McConnell Dowell and Royal Haskoning to achieve the objective of the project and implement the project in a timely manner.

He mentioned that while the port project proceeds into implementation, government is keen to advance the readiness of the Fanga’uta Lagoon Bridge Project as the next transportation project to be funded by ADB, which remains relevant and a priority for Government’s infrastructure projects.

He extends his gratitude to ADB project team, contractor, consultants, Port Authority Tonga, Ministry of Infrastructure and Ministry of Finance.

“A lot of hard work is required for the next 900 days and this happy occasion shall soon be repeated at the completion of the project which we all look forward to.”

The event was also attended by Cabinet Ministers, Ms Leah Gutierrez, ADB Director for the Pacific Department and her team; Diplomatic Corps; Port Authority Board of Directors’ members and distinguish guests.