2023 Pacific Games Stadium project handover, a testimony of genuine partnership

Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & External Trade, Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Prime Minister and Minister responsible for the Pacific Games 2023, Manasseh Sogavare has termed as “totally appropriate” the 2023 Pacific Games investment.

Sogavare made the statement while accepting the 2023 Pacific Games Stadium project handed over to the Solomon Islands Government by the China Ambassador, Li Ming, on behalf of the Government and people of China on Friday.

“It is the 2023 Pacific Games projects that saved Solomon Islands from total economic collapse during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when the global, regional, and our very own economy contracted,” Sogavare stated.

He explained, investments brought in by the Pacific Games also leveraged major infrastructure projects such as the international Airport Upgrade and the Kukum Highway Phase construction, employing about 1000 nationals during the height of construction, putting an average of $1 million(US$119,161) into the pockets of these workers every payday.

Other benefits include the employment of more than 5,000 direct employees or contractors apart from almost 3,000 volunteers to be engaged next month.

Brushing aside false misinformation suggesting that the funds invested in the 2023 Pacific Games could be redirected to our other priorities, the Prime Minister said, this is not the case.

“Funds provided by donors to the 2023 Pacific Games are for that purpose only and are not available to or cannot be redirected to other priorities – so if we do not use them for the Pacific Games – we lose them.”

Sogavare further expressed, without the Pacific Games, SINU would not have the opportunity to obtain $170 million(US$20 million)’ worth of dormitory rooms for up to 900 students.

Thanking China for the gift, the Prime Minister said, investment in the 2023 Pacific Games is an investment for our children and our youths who make up more than 60 percent of our population. Contractors, CCECC and CSADI were also praised for overcoming all challenges and delivering the project on time.

On the question of sustainability, Sogavare confirmed, the process of developing a long-term legacy plan and a long-term business plan for the use and maintenance of each facility has already started.

CCECC had agreed to provide maintenance support to the 2023 Pacific Games Stadium facilities for a period of 24 months from the date the facility is handed over to the Solomon Islands Government.

He adds, the completion and handing over of the 2023 Pacific Games Stadium project in a record time of ‘twenty-six months’ is testimony to genuine partnership and commitment by both our countries to accomplish agreed priorities within agreed timeframes. Handing over the magnificent stadium, Chinese Ambassador Li Ming said, it is a historic achievement of the joint construction of the Belt and Road between China and Solomon Islands……“A historic achievement of equality, respect and win-win cooperation between China and Solomon Islands.”