Transport officials support SPC's efforts towards developing a regional Framework for Action on Transport Services

Saturday 27 November 2010, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) - Pacific transport officials have expressed full support for a high level policy document that is expected to enhance developments in transport infrastructure and services in the Pacific.

A draft Framework for Action on Transport Services was tabled for discussion at a special meeting of transport officials held in Suva, Fiji Islands from 23-24 November.

SPC's Economic Development Division (EDD), the organiser of this meeting, is leading the development of this framework.

In welcoming delegates to the meeting, SPC Deputy Director-General Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu said active participation of members was necessary to ensure that the framework addressed the key challenges in developing vital transport services in the Pacific.

'We cannot over-emphasise the importance of the transport sector as a key economic driver for our region, underpinning trade in goods and services, food security as well as in the provision of much needed employment,' she said.

The key strategic role of the transport sector has been reflected clearly in several key regional policy documents, communiqués and plans, including the Forum Principles on Regional Transport Services (2004), the Pacific Plan (2005), the Kalibobo Roadmap (2005), the Nadi Decisions (2006), the Vava'u (2007) Communiqué, the Alofi (2008) Communiqué, the Cairns (2009) Communiqué, and the Maritime Transport Ministerial Communiqué (2009).

Following two days of intense discussions, the meeting fulfilled its main objective of reviewing and gathering consensus on the overall content and structure of the draft transport framework.

To further advance the work on the framework, SPC will incorporate into the document comments and suggestions made by the participants and send out a second draft for final comments in early December. This draft will be circulated to all parties who had been invited to the meeting, whether or not they were able to attend.

A deadline of mid-January 2011 was agreed for all parties to revert to SPC with additional comments.

The final draft, which will be circulated mid-March, will be used by Pacific Island country and territory transport officials to brief their respective ministers before the Transport Ministers Meeting in April 2011.

The meeting also resulted in the formation of a Transport Oversight Group, which will assume responsibility for developing a framework implementation plan and for monitoring progress on implementation of the framework. A draft implementation plan is to be tabled at the transport ministerial meeting next year together with the draft framework. The group is expected to hold its first meeting in January 2011.