Tongan government criticised over wharf spending | Pacific Beat

Tongan government criticised over wharf spending

Tongan government criticised over wharf spending

Updated 30 January 2013, 18:23 AEST

The Tongan government has been criticised for not raising enough money to finish the development of the Vuna wharf in the capital, Nukualofa.

It was designed to be able to handle cruise ships, and was supposed to have an attached marina for yachts.

Chinese money funded the main part of the project, but the opposition Democratic Party says the money for the marina hasn't been raised yet, leaving the wharf unfinished and unsightly.

Party leader, Akilisi Pohiva, tells Bruce Hill the government didn't do enough planning.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker:Tonga's opposition leader Akilisi Pohiva

POHIVA: Vuna wharf is made up of two parts. One part was the upgrade of one section was funded by a loan from China and it was complete last year and the other section, the other part was funded by Port Authority and that part is not yet finished. But the two parts combined together to make up the Vuna wharf.

Just last week, one of the local newspapers took pictures of the second part of the Vuna wharf and they found that a holes right in front of the wharf and they just put all pictures on all local newspaper. These damages, well it is the responsibility of the government or Port Authority to do something about these damages.

HILL: Now, I understand that point of upgrading the Vuna wharf was so that cruise ships could call into Nukualofa, and also I think the second part, the front part funded by the Ports Authority was supposed to be a marina. Is it the marina part that hasn't been finished yet and do they need more money to finish it?

POHIVA: Well, they need more money, that, as I said earlier, was funded by Port Authority and 3.2 millions had gone onto the upgrade of this part. So the problem of Government now is how to get funds to complete, to complete this particular project.

HILL: So what is your criticism of the way the government has handled the whole thing, that they ran out of money?

POHIVA: Yes, they are running out of money, but I think they should have debit out a proper financial or feasibility study before they started the projects.

What's actually happened, that part I'm talking about was funded by Port Authority and they were running out of funds and what actually happened was the Chairman of the board who was the former prime minister. He requested government for funds to complete and the response from virtually, there was no money. And I think they have been seeking funds from other financial institutions, but so far, there has been no response. So uncompleted part of that part is still there. I can see right from here to there and the bullshit yesterday, really caused to that part funded from a loan from China, they could easily see the damages in front part, at the front part.

The other thing is toilet facilities at the wharf I think there is a great need to improve that, because this is one of the basic facilities that any tourist attraction should have.

HILL: The basic idea of upgrading the wharf was so that cruise ships could come in. But that's actually worked, hasn't it, that Tonga has seen some cruise ships actually calling at Nukualofa. So it hasn't been a complete disaster, has it?

POHIVA: Well, I think we still have our Queen Salote wharf. I think the amount of money allocated for that particular project, 33 millions is a huge amount of money. That money should have gone to other projects, because the existing wharf can still accommodate any cruise ship that come from overseas. Still we do not have more cruise ships that come to Tonga every year, so that wharf is sitting there and it can accommodate any cruise ship anytime. So the amount allocated for this project I think is a huge amount of money and it is part of the biggest loan that the government of Tonga ever had. So it is a burden for the taxpayers to pay.

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