Major investment in Marshall Islands maritime project

10:13 am on 17 October 2019

An investment of $US33 million is being made to upgrade maritime infrastructure in the Marshall Islands.

An aerial look at crowded Ebeye Island in the Marshall Islands, one of two urban centers where poverty and income disparities are high

An aerial look at crowded Ebeye Island in the Marshall Islands. Photo: Anjojo Kabua

The country's president, Hilda Heine, said significant planning was underway for the Maritime Investment Project, which will be officially launched next month.

Upgrades would include the repair of quays, wharves and other structures, Dr Heine said.

The project would also usher in improved safety of port operations at main centres and outer island docks and strengthen maritime transport across the country, she said.

Under the funding package, $US12.35m is to be invested into maritime infrastructure and $US7.65m in maritime safety and security.

Additionally, $US13.12m has been allocated for technical assistance for port planning and project management.

Dr Heine said the project would also improve the reliability of connections between the capital Majuro and outer island communities.

"The project will also help build resilience to climate change, which is a significant threat to maritime operations, with sea-level rise accelerating the rate of coastal erosion and the deterioration of key port infrastructure," she said.

The project, funded through the World Bank's International Development Association, is being implemented by the Marshalls' Ports Authority, its ministries of Transportation and Communications, Finance, Justice, and the National Disaster Management Office.

The Marshall's Minister for Finance, Banking and Postal Services, Brenson Wase, said work on the project began in May and was expected to continue until August 2024.

"Work is underway to recruit a project manager and strategic planning has started into the safety and security needs of our maritime infrastructure," Mr Wase said.

"We are looking to set up a centralised implementation unit housed in the Division of International Development Assistance, which will be a shared resource with the World Bank.

"The Maritime Investment Project will improve our country's resilience to natural disasters and climate change, and will strengthen communities' access to food, water, fuel and emergency response services," he said.