AIFFP, ADB, Tonga join forces for $31.25 m Nuku’alofa port upgrade

Oct 4, 2023 | Blog, News, Pacific, Tonga

In a significant development, the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) has teamed up with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Kingdom of Tonga to inject $31.25 million into a crucial project aimed at enhancing the Nuku’alofa Port. This investment forms an integral part of a larger $138.3 million initiative focused on fortifying the climate resilience of the Queen Solate International Wharf (QSIW) at Nuku’alofa Port.

Pic courtesy: AIFFP website.

Tonga, being a small island nation, heavily relies on the import of essential commodities like fuel and food, with over 98 percent of these imports arriving via sea routes. The QSIW at Nuku’alofa Port plays a pivotal role in Tonga’s economic landscape, overseeing the handling of more than 95 percent of the nation’s total containerized volume. Consequently, it stands as a critical asset for the people of Tonga.

The Nuku’alofa Port Upgrade Project is set to deliver a safer, more dependable, and cost-effective transportation infrastructure and services in Tonga, with a focus on climate-resilient upgrades.

Under this project, existing port infrastructure will undergo rehabilitation and expansion, including the upgrade of wharf one and the container yard, as well as a 50-meter extension of wharf two, bringing its total length to 110 meters. Additionally, port access roads and services such as electrical systems, stormwater drainage, fire safety, water resource management, fuel facilities, and CCTV will undergo improvements. These enhancements will not only boost capacity but also refine management and operational practices at the port, including the implementation of a gender equality policy at Ports Authority Tonga.

It is noteworthy that more than three-quarters of the workforce involved in the project will be sourced locally, contributing significantly to the Tongan economy. Presently, around three-quarters of the on-site workers are Tongan nationals. Furthermore, the engagement of Tongan women engineers in key roles and the training of two local female university graduates to operate the site laboratory underscore the commitment to local empowerment.

Crucially, the project will incorporate adaptation and mitigation measures to safeguard the port against climate-related impacts and natural disasters. These measures include the construction of a new sea wall and elevation of the yard level to mitigate the effects of rising sea levels. Improved drainage systems and enhanced access roads will offer protection against high rainfall events, while upgraded rainwater harvesting capacity will ensure a backup water supply during droughts. Additionally, the project will modernize operational technology with climate-smart enhancements such as new electrical systems, LED lighting, and improved fuel monitoring.

The AIFFP’s involvement in this significant project aligns perfectly with its dedication to supporting Tonga’s Strategic Development Framework 2015 – 2025 and the National Infrastructure Investment Plan 2021-2030. This investment also resonates with AIFFP’s climate change priorities and underscores its commitment to collaborating with Pacific partners to foster long-term economic recovery and growth.