PATROL BOAT OUTPOST GROUNDBREAKING
A ground-breaking ceremony for the Western Border and Patrol Boat Outpost was held in the Shortland Islands by the Australian and Solomon Islands governments, today.
In a statement, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the ground-breaking marks the next phase of the Australian and Solomon Islands infrastructure and security partnership.
He added, it is the commencement of a critical multi-million Australian dollars infrastructure project to boost Solomon Islands border and maritime security.
“Australia is proud to be working closely with the Solomon Islands to promote economic development and stability in the region, and strengthen and protect its Western Border,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
“We share an enduring and a close friendship and this joint project demonstrates the strong security relationship between our two countries, as bilateral security treaty partners.
“The project will boost Solomon Islands’ capacity to respond to natural disasters, deliver health programs in the Western Border area and provide a foundation for economic growth in the region.
“Together we are advancing this important project while adapting to the challenges and complexities of COVID-19. Australia looks forward to working together to progress technical aspects of the project over the coming months.”
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare thanked Australia for the security partnership and described the Solomon Islands and Australia as two nations not separated by the oceans but joined by the waves of peace, cooperation, prosperity, and mutual respect.
“I was truly glad when Prime Minister Morrison offered to support the Government’s initiative to establish a Border and Patrol Boat Outpost,” Prime Minister Sogavare said.
“I must commend the steadfast support Australia has rendered in ensuring the safety and security of Solomon Islands. In fact, our friendship is one that is not only built on trust and friendship but one that is cemented by our friendship and recognition of mutual understanding.”
The new facility will bring together police, customs, and immigration officials in a single location to reinforce Solomon Islands’ security at the Western Border and promote peaceful cross-border movements.
It will also deliver new facilities to coordinate operations, accommodation, and a wharf capable of supporting RSIPV Taro and Gizo, Solomon Islands’ Guardian-class Patrol Boats, and Australian-gifted fast boats.
The Solomon Islands chose Lofung, South of Shortland Islands as the location for the Outpost.
Construction will take up to three years.
Engineers will conduct technical site investigations in the coming months on land and at sea and work on the project is expected to commence next year.
Australia and Solomon Islands continue to work together to ensure that Pacific homes remain secure, stable, and prosperous.
Meanwhile, a statement from the Government said, the historic groundbreaking ceremony fulfills the long-time wishes and desires of the people residing along the Western Border region for a robust, structured, and established border security management approach.
Prime Minister Sogavare described yesterday as an “exceptional day for both the people of Shortland Island and the Solomon Islands as a whole.
“Today we stand witness to the beginning of a momentous occasion, the ground-breaking ceremony of the Border and Patrol Boat Outpost project on Lofung Island. I trust that we all appreciate and agree that the security and welfare of communities along the Solomon Island and PNG border is of paramount importance,” he said.
The Patrol Boat Outpost at Lofung, a historic site on the Island of Alu was used as a Police Operation Base during the Bougainville Crisis and other policing establishments thereafter.