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Coast Contractor Completes Aid Project in Remote Tuvalu

Posted on November 30, 2015

Sunshine Coast-based dredging, civil contracting and marine civil company Halls Contracting dredged more than 365,000 sqm of sand from a lagoon to fill the holes and improve living conditions on the island.

Hall Contracting managing director Cameron Hall said the works, funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on behalf of the Government of Tuvalu, created more usable land and improved sanitation.

“During the second world war, the United States Marine Corps dug up areas of the Funafuti atoll for use in building an airstrip,” he said.

“The resulting trenches – known as borrow pits – are uninhabitable, and tidal movements see rubbish as well as human and pig waste collect in the pits, then seep through the island’s porous coral floor and into the lagoon below.

“This situation has not only posed sanitation issues for many years, but also polluted the water beneath, causing excessive plant growth and wreaking havoc on the health of the local ecosystem.

“Considering fishing and agriculture are some of the country’s primary economic activities, any damage to the local ecosystem can be detrimental to the livelihood of the Tuvaluan people.”

Mr Hall said filling in the borrow pits had minimised pollution and improved hygiene levels on the atoll.

“For a small island nation, Tuvalu is very densely populated, so land space is considered precious,” he said.

“In conducting these works on Funafuti’s eastern side, we were able to increase the useable land space in the area by eight per cent,” Mr Hall said.

In addition to the works, Hall Contracting undertook foundation and building repairs on-site, installing new services and constructing a rock wall to repair a breach in the atoll.  

The company spent more than six months working on the $7 million aid project, deploying a 4,500hp cutter suction dredge, 180-foot accommodation barge and support equipment such as excavators, dozers and trucks from Australia to Polynesian waters as part of the project.

At the project’s peak about 30 workers were involved with the works on-site, including six Hall Contracting staff members, four Fijian natives and 20 Tuvaluans. 

Halls Contracting will return to Tuvalu to design and construct a seawall on behalf of the Government of Tuvalu and the United Nations Development Program.

“When tropical cyclone Pam battered Tuvalu, Vanuatu and other nations in the South Pacific earlier this year, it caused significant damage to one of Tuvalu’s seawalls, so we’re rebuilding this and expect the new structure will protect the country’s Nukufetau atoll in the years to come,” Mr Hall said.

“Self-sufficiency is highly important to the Tuvaluan people, so in addition to employing a number of Tuvaluan residents and equipping them with the skills to carry out these works, our team will also teach them how to conduct repairs and maintain the condition of the new seawall over the long term.

“For a country that will be acutely affected by the impacts of climate change, we see this transfer of skills as extremely important.” 

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