Five franchise routes have been awarded to three ship operators, allowing the first scheduled voyages of ships to remote areas of Solomon Islands, under the Domestic Maritime Support Project.The franchise shipping scheme is a key component of the project, which enables private sector ship operators to provide services to remote, commercially unviable destinations.
Co-financed by the European Union, the Asian Development Bank, and the Solomon Islands Government, the Domestic Maritime Support Project aims to spur rural development and provide economically disadvantaged people with greater access to markets and services. The project also aims to improve safety, reliability, and frequency of interisland shipping services, and promote the growth of rural production.
Remote areas which will be serviced under the project include: Temotu outer islands, Ontong Java & Dai Island, Ulawa and Sikaiana, the Shortland Islands, Makira and the weather coast.
Direct benefits of the project include more frequent and reliable shipping services at lower cost. Increased agriculture production and better terms of trade for rural areas are also expected. The main beneficiaries of the project will be people in the poorest parts of Solomon Islands.
The Solomon Islands economy is reliant on agriculture, fishing, and forestry. Production generally takes place in remote rural areas with poor access to transportation services. Many areas lack suitable maritime infrastructure and do not receive regular shipping services. Revitalization of the rural economy is a key strategy in reducing poverty in Solomon Islands.