Groundbreaking for the Palau airport renovation project

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Representative perform Kagami-biraki (Opening a ceremonial sake barrel) during the groundbreaking ceremony. (Photo from the Embassy of Japan to Palau)

Palau – Government officials from Palau and Japan  and other project stakeholders broke ground April 14 on the Palau international airport renovation and expansion project in Airai State.

Toshiyuki Yamada, ambassador of Japan to Palau, and Charles I. Obichang, minister of public Infrastructure, industry and commerce of the Republic of Palau, headed the list of dignitaries who attended the ceremony, according to information from the Japanese embassy in Palau.

The project is Palau’s first-ever major public-private partnership for infrastructure development – a potential model for other projects, according to a release from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The Japanese agency has provided funding for the project.

This month, JICA has signed a $27.8 million loan agreement with the Palau International Airport Corporation (PIAC) for the funding of the project,  according to a release from the international agency.

The Palau corporation is a special purpose company established by the Palau Government and the Japan Airport Management Partners Company Limited (JAMP) for the renovation project.

According to JICA, the project will undertake expansion, renovation, operation and maintenance of passenger terminal facilities at Palau’s only international airport. Goals of the project are to reduce congestion at the passenger terminal, improve terminal convenience and the terminal’s commercial facilities.

Obichang gave a speech on behalf of the Palauan government. He said, “It is my great pleasure to welcome this handover and ground breaking ceremony, though there were many difficulties and was a long way to go before today”.

The economy of the Pacific island nation relies on the steady flow of visitors from all over the world. The airport expansion project would help the local tourism industry cope with the increasing numbers of visitors from China, Japan, and South Korea. To encourage private investors to support the project, the government introduced tax exemptions to the contractor to bring down the cost of the construction.