New airstrip for Solomon’s Western Province
Munda in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands now has a new airstrip and a road thanks to funding from the New Zealand Government. These infrastructure developments are expected to boost the economy of the western region. <!--more-->New Zealand has earmarked $25million for infrastructure projects in the province.
A special challenge in the construction of these projects was the removal of nearly 5100 unexploded ordnance items from World War II, including a 1000lb bomb, and over 5700 items of small arms ammunitions.
Speaking at the opening of the airstrip and the new Noro-Munda road, Murray McCully, New Zealand’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade said, “The improved runway will open up Western Province to tourism and create opportunities for village level and large scale operators. It will also allow for the safer and more effective movement of passengers and freight.
“The next stage of this project will see the runway upgraded to international alternate status. This will bring major benefits for airlines servicing Honiara as it will reduce the amount of fuel they need to carry in case of emergency.”
Currently, about 7 tonnes of reserve fuel is carried to reach the nearest alternate runway at Santo in Vanuatu, 604 nautical miles away. A minimum of 2.5 tonnes of fuel could be converted into payload, resulting in higher freight volumes, lower cargo rates and cheaper airfares.
Noro-Munda road, connecting Munda to a major port and fish processing centre at Noro town, has significantly reduced travel time between the two places.