Acting Chief Executive Officer of PNG Ports, Rodney Begley, said this is an initiative by PNG Ports under its community service obligation to provide a vital service to Aitape, boost the economy of the district and support the Government’s Connect PNG initiative.
PNG Ports will work in consultation with Member for Aitape-Lumi, Anderson Mise and the District Development Authority (DDA).
The Aitape port rehabilitation funding will come from the blended financial package of K1.5 billion by the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP), which is part of a bi-lateral sovereign loan between the Australian Government, PNG Government and PNG Ports.
In a brief meeting with Mr Mise in Port Moresby, Mr Begley said Aitape port is a ‘quiet’ port with little to no vessel traffic.
“Between December 2021 and December 2022, there were zero vessel calls, no cargo exchange and containers at the port,” said Mr Begley.
“Previous years had an average of three vessel calls per year. However, PNG Ports, through the AIFFP funding, will be rehabilitating the port to ensure that ships call at the port again, by opening up Aitape to sea trade and contribute towards the growth of the district economy,” he said.
The current facilities at the port include the main wharf, a small ships wharf, an access trestle jetty and buildings.
Aitape Port is primarily used for landing craft vessels operated by commercial operators for importing dry cargo for the local store.
The Department of Works It was built in 1972 by, and refurbished in 1990. PNG Ports acquired it in 2010 and undertook upgrading of the landside facilities in 2013, and constructed the passenger facilities and coastal defense system in 2014.
On February 10, 2021, heavy swells caused the main wharf to collapse and was declared unsafe for operation.
Mise said Aitape port provided a vital service that encouraged development, and commended PNG Ports for this positive step towards growing the economy of Aitape in line with his district development goals.
Adding that he would ensure community support and security for PNG Ports throughout the duration of the project.
PNG Ports aims to kick off the project in April, 2023 with the Tender and Award of Design contract with actual construction scheduled for the 4th quarter of 2023.
PNG Ports will also be promoting local content through the collaboration and up-skilling of local contractors, community engagement and safeguarding as a mandatory part of the project.