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Source: Asia Development Bank

The Kingdom of Tonga situated in the Southern Pacific Ocean is an archipelago of 177 islands set across an expanse of 700,000 square kilometers of ocean. The population of 108,000 has a strong seafaring tradition and current and future trade plans rely heavily on sea trade to develop the economy. Currently, the Kingdom’s economy is based on a large non-monetary sector, remittances from foreign-based nationals, fishing, and agricultural exports.  

Tonga’s development plans emphasize a growing private sector, upgrading agricultural productivity, developing tourism, and improving communications and transport. Substantial progress has been made but much work remains to be done.  

The current port container terminal at Queen Salote International Wharf is the lifeline of the remote island country of Tonga and has been identified as a bottleneck to future development. 

Kelela Tonga 

Director of Marine and Ports Division 

Queen Salote Wharf is the capital international port for Tonga. 

Iketau Kaufusi 

Manager Infrastructure & Technical Services, Ports Authority Tonga 

This is the only gateway in Nuku’alofa for this island. We only have one international wharf. Currently, when the ship arrives at the port, the berthing is too short. We need a longer berth for the container ship coming to Tonga. 

Kelela Tonga 

Director of Marine and Ports Division 

Knowing that there will be larger ships operating in the Pacific Islands in the future, the Queen Salote International Port needs to be improved and upgraded to be able to accommodate those ships in the future. 

With widespread degradation of the wharf facilities, a decaying concrete structure, insufficient lighting and substandard safety and hardstand provisions, the Asian Development Bank is working with the government of Tonga for the provision of grant funding for the redesign and construction of an upgraded container port facility. 

Additionally, natural hazards such as cyclones, earthquakes, and tsunamis pose a significant threat to the port container terminal, and the achievement of national and regional development goals. 

The target of this upgrade is not only to modernize the facility, but as well to climate-proof the port in order to become an international gateway promoting the economic development of Tonga. The upgrade of the port is proposed to start construction in 2021, with activities expected to be ongoing for two to four years. 

The main features of the project include, the extension of Wharf 2 to better accommodate larger vessels, construction of a new dolphin between Wharf 1 and 2, construction of new dolphins on the eastern side of Wharf 1, reconstruction of the Wharf 1, reinforced concrete slab, yard improvements, and smart and green port features such as reorganisation, new paving, drainage, smart lighting, waste management, and firefighting. 

Capacity building programs related to port operations, safety operation, and maintenance, and gender equity policy and training for the ports authority. 

Kelela Tonga 

Director of Marine and Ports Division 

The hope for the Queen Salote International Wharf Project is that it will improve provisions of better facilities for trade, and then it will increase the economy contribution from the transport sector, as well as provide sustainability of development here in Tonga. 

Iketau Kaufusi 

Manager Infrastructure & Technical Services, Ports Authority Tonga 

After this project, you know, if we get more ships coming and we have more trade shipment containers, we’ll have more spaces for empty containers. Hopefully, we will get more additional revenue for my country, stimulating the economy of my islands.

MIL OSI Global Banks