Additional workers for the 2023 Pacific Games facilities are now in Honiara and in quarantine. The additional staff arrived over the weekend from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) via a charter flight.
Confirming to Solomon Times Online, Chairman of the Solomon Islands National Hosting Authority and Secretary to the Prime Minister, Dr. Jimmie Rodgers says all arrivals are staff that are here to work on the Pacific Games project.
“Due to the combination of COVID-19 and the social unrest in November//December period, the progress of construction is badly affected. With the current workforce - both locals (more than 300 now) and foreign nationals we will not be able to complete the facilities on time for the games next year.
"The additional staff will ensure the facilities are completed in time for the Games. Their arrival was delayed until last night (weekend)”, Dr. Rodgers said.
He said the additional staff will support the Pacific Games project and Pacific Games Village for accommodation at SINU Kukum Campus which will then be transferred by the NHA/PG 2023 to SINU as accommodation for its students.
“All these people have complied with SIG's pre-entry requirements. They all tested negative to COVID-19. They will still serve their full quarantine period and only be released after successful completion”, Rodgers said.
Meanwhile the Opposition Leader Mathew Wale has recently urged the government to redirect resources including funds for the 2023 Pacific Games towards health facilities to ease the COVID-19 pressure.
He said it is tragic that the priority now is on building stadiums and not health care infrastructure.
The government is however adamant that the 2023 Pacific Games Project must be fulfilled as per initial plan.
The 2023 Pacific Games Facebook administrators have recently posted that COVID-19 won’t stand in the way of the delivery of the project.
“Now that COVID-19 is spreading in our community, it will be good for all sports men and women in the country to get vaccinated. Let us have the same determination of our PRC friends who came to project manage and build the facilities for us and say, we will not let COVID-19 stand in our way.
“Let us adhere and follow the health advice and protocols for controlling and containing the virus and let’s hope our country can reach up to 90% of our population vaccinated in order for authorities to allow services to be returned, our borders opened, our economy is sustained and 2023 Pacific Games Facilities can be completed so the Games will take place in 2023”.
In 2020, Counsellor Yao Ming from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China said his government is fully committed to seeing this project materialise.
According to Counsellor Ming, once committed to an agreement, the government of the PRC will always carry through with its commitment despite challenges such as the COVID-19 faced by his country.
An implementation agreement between the Solomon Islands government and China signed in 2020, has paved the way for the construction of venues and facilities for the 2023 Pacific Games, funded by the People’s Republic of China.