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China’s donation of six boats to transform Island connectivity

China will donate six boats to the Government of Vanuatu to enhance connectivity between the islands across all six provinces.

This announcement was made by the Chinese Ambassador to Vanuatu, Li Minggang, during the signing and handover ceremony of Chinese aid, valued at over VT239 million, to Prime Minister Charlot Salwai on Friday, the 15th of March.

The VT239 million aid represents the goodwill of the government and people of the People’s Republic of China towards the government and people of the Republic of Vanuatu.

It is expected to assist the Vanuatu Government in recovering from Tropical Cyclones (TCs) Judy, Kevin, and Lola, better managing natural disasters, and implementing the National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP) 2016-2030.

According to the Prime Minister’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Hilaire Bule, the Chinese Government was the first to offer assistance to the Vanuatu Government following the Development Partners meeting held at Ramada Resort on Thursday, the 14th of March, with the Department of Strategic Policy, Planning and Aid Coordination (DSPPAC).

The PRO said the six boats are estimated to be 15 meters long and 4.3 meters wide, with a speed of 35 knots.

These boats will be distributed to the six provinces of Vanuatu, marking the second such donation by the Chinese Government after the MV Southern Star and MV Northern Star.

“The first two ships were designed for freshwater, causing them to deteriorate quickly.

“However, with these new six boats, the Chinese Ambassador will engage with Ports and Marine and the Vanuatu Maritime Authority to discuss his plans for the boats before their arrival in Vanuatu,” said the PRO.

He also mentioned that there will be a Council of Ministers (COM) document prepared by the relevant Ministry and Department detailing how they will manage the six boats upon their arrival in the country.

“The Prime Minister acknowledges the Chinese Government for making this offer, as it addresses his concerns raised during the Development Partners meeting at Ramada last week.

“He emphasised the ongoing connectivity issues between the islands of Vanuatu,” Mr. Bule added.

“Government officials often rely on chartering planes, particularly for destinations like Torres Islands.

“However, the introduction of these boats will facilitate transportation for Government officials to Torres once they reach Sola, as well as in PENAMA, MALAMPA, and other provinces.

China’s offer to donate six boats to Vanuatu, with each boat allocated to a specific province, will directly address the challenges posed by the country’s geographic fragmentation.

By providing each province with its own vessel, transportation between islands within each respective province will be greatly improved.

This targeted approach ensures that isolated communities within each province can enjoy better connectivity and access to essential services, thereby addressing the logistical hurdles posed by Vanuatu’s dispersed island geography.

Additionally, the boats can enhance disaster response capabilities, support local fisheries, strengthen maritime surveillance, and stimulate tourism and economic development within each province.

Overall, this targeted donation strategy aligns with Vanuatu’s specific needs and has the potential to generate positive impacts at the provincial level, advancing resilience and prosperity across the archipelago.

The Prime Minister’s PRO also pointed out that with these six boats coming in, there will be an increased demand for infrastructure such as wharves to accommodate the boats in each province.

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