18 Sep 2017

Work on the runway at Vanuatu's main airport to start

5:56 am on 18 September 2017

The reconstruction of the runway at Vanuatu's main airport is set to get underway, with key machinery and equipment finally arriving in Port Vila from China last week.

The biosecurity department last month stopped a shipment from entering the country because of fears a load of gravel on board could be contaminated with foot-and-mouth disease.

The director of biosecurity, Timothy Tumukon, told the Daily Post the ship was allowed to dock briefly last week, under the strict supervision of biosecurity officers.

He said machinery with dirt was not allowed off the ship, which was ordered to go 12-miles out to sea, where the equipment would have to be thoroughly cleaned.

Mr Tumukon said the ship would not be allowed back into Port Vila, and the cleaned equipment would have to be transferred to a barge to be taken ashore.

The equipment's arrival means work to reconstruct the runway - which Air New Zealand refuses to use for safety reasons - can get underway.