World Bank keen on Tina River Hydro reopening

Prime Minister Sogavare, third from left, with the Sydney-based Pacific Director of the World Bank, Mr Kerf, far right, and his delegation.

The World Bank is eager to see work on the Tina River Hydro Project in the hinterlands of Guadalcanal to start as soon as possible.

The Sydney-based Pacific Director of the World Bank, Michel Kerf made the statement to the Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare in their meeting in Honiara on Wednesday – February 15.

He told Mr Sogavare that the World Bank and the International Development Association, which have jointly agreed to provide 33-point-6-million-U-S dollar grant and soft loan towards the Tina River Hydro Project, are eager to find out from the government, if work can go ahead by June.

Mr Kerf said the World Bank is anxious about the delay in kicking off the project because talks on securing international assistance towards the Tina Hydro began in 2016 and it has taken all this time without an indication when work will begin.

Mr Kerf said his team would discuss with stakeholders, the Ministry of Finance and Treasury and Ministry of Energy and Mines about the areas where the World Bank can be useful to the Government and the project.

And he added they would also hold discussions about future co-operation between the Solomon Islands Government and the World Bank.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sogavare said he will inform his Cabinet and Caucus about the World Bank’s concerns and to have further discussions on the hydro project, adding the ball is in the government’s court.

However, Mr Sogavare said work on the hydro project would start once funds are available.

The Prime Minister’s Office had earlier acknowledged that international financiers see the importance of the hydro project to the Government and Solomon Islands.

In that statement, the Prime Minister’s Office also said development partners such as the World Bank have responded positively to the government’s request for help to build the Tina River Hydro Project.

By George Atkin for OPMC Press