PRESS RELEASE November 30, 2018

New Climate Resilient Infrastructure to Benefit all Tongans

WASHINGTON, November 29, 2018 - The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today a US$26 million grant to support more climate-resilient road, maritime and air transport infrastructure in the Kingdom of Tonga. It will also provide technical assistance and emergency support in the event of a natural disaster.

The Tonga Climate Resilient Transport Project will allow for faster travel times and smoother and safer journeys to all Tongans. It should also benefit the country’s tourism, agriculture, and commerce, as well as provide healthcare, education and social connectivity benefits.

“Climate Resilient transportation either through land, air or sea is critical in enabling economic growth and remains a priority for Government” said Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Infrastructure and Tourism, Hon. Semisi Kioa Lafu Sika. “We are grateful that the World Bank, as a key partner for Tonga, is helping us deliver on this priority.”

The project will finance the upgrade and rehabilitation of key sections of Tonga’s road network on Vava’u, ‘Eua, and Ha’apai islands, as well as of critical roads on Tongatapu. These works will include footpaths, road safety investments, and climate adaptation works to improve protection, drainage, and stability on key coastal and hilly roads. New maintenance arrangements will also be piloted through this project, aiming to ensure that upgrades and rehabilitation works deliver longer benefits.

The project’s maritime component will undertake safety repairs and restoration to key wharves and other maritime infrastructure in ‘Eua and the Niuas and will also include maintenance dredging to remove sediment deposits within the basin and docking areas. This work will complement works recently carried out in the ports of Ha’apai and Vava’u through the World Bank-led Transport Sector Consolidation Project. The project’s aviation component will finance the resurfacing of the Ha’apai runway and apron.

“Tonga is ranked second in the world for disaster risk using an index combining exposure and vulnerability, with the transport sector one of the most vulnerable elements,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea & the Pacific Islands. “Yet our analysis shows that improved maintenance can help Tonga avoid 18 percent of well-being and asset losses from future extreme weather events. We’re proud to be able to help Tonga improve the resilience of its transport infrastructure.”

The project’s technical assistance component will include urban transport studies, a feasibility study to improve bicycle access, a climate vulnerability assessment of the road network, together with continued support to institutional reforms within the Ministry of Infrastructure and the potential establishment of a Maritime Maintenance Fund. In addition, the project includes a contingency component that allows for swift reallocation of funding to emergency repairs to vital infrastructure – roads, wharves, jetties, runways, bridges, seawalls, water and telecommunications infrastructure – in the event of a natural disaster.

The Tonga Climate Resilient Transport Project is funded through a US$26 million grant from the International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for the world’s most in-need countries.

Contacts:

Sydney:           Ben Brighouse, +61 433 028 405, bbrighouse@worldbank.org
Washington:    Marcela Sanchez-Bender, +1 (202) 473-5863, msanchezbender@worldbank.org


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