Tonga comprises three main island groups with a total land area of about 700 sq. km dispersed over a 400,000 sq. km area of the South Pacific. Basic infrastructure is of reasonably good quality, as is its social service system. However, its small size, geographic dispersion and isolation and limited natural resources provide a narrow economic base, making it particularly vulnerable to external economic shocks. Tonga faces many challenges in developing and maintaining sustainable internal, regional and international transport and communication linkages, all of which are crucial to the economic development and social well-being of its estimated 105,000 population. The country is faced with limited capital resources and decaying infrastructure, combined with financial and administrative constraints, as well as challenges of meeting domestic and international transport safety security requirements.
The project was to assist the Government of Tonga in establishing and consolidating the operations of the newly-created Ministry of Transport as a unified ministry, and to improve compliance of the civil aviation and maritime entities with international safety and security standards. The Ministry of Transport was subsequently merged with the Ministry of Works to form the Ministry of Infrastructure. The project supported a change management process to focus this new Ministry on its core activities, which was recognized with an international award in 2013 by the United Kingdom’s Institute of Asset Management.
The International Development Association (IDA) is recognized by the Government of Tonga and the Government of Australia as having the specialist expertise and long-standing association with this particular sector in Tonga to be well positioned to help develop appropriate policy and regulations needed to better coordinate these various initiatives.
- A total of 171km of roads maintained or rehabilitated between January 2012 and June 2013 by eight domestic contractors: Two contractors are firms owned by women.
- The creation of a domestic road contracting industry for Tonga which employed 88 people, including 12 women, working on road maintenance throughout Tonga.
- Improved safety standards for passenger vessels, under an improved regulatory framework with the Government of Tonga’s Marine and Ports Division.
- Aids to navigation and port-related works completed to improve safety and security of seafarers.
- Improved infrastructure, including the fire station at the airport and an extension to the airport transit lounge.
- Road safety improvements through signage, road markings and pedestrian facilities in Tongatapu, Ha’apai and Vava’u.
- The establishment of a ‘Road Maintenance Fund’ to ensure sustainable finance of future investments.
- The successful creation of the new fully-functioning Ministry of Infrastructure.