September 7, 2020 — Ports Authority Tonga is delighted to announce that the slipway upgrade project has completed and the facility is now ready to reopen after operations was suspended in January this year.

The Acting CEO – Mr. ‘Alo Maileseni said, “It has been over a year since the last vessel was slipped on the slipway. A significant investment in upgrading the slipway was made in order to meet the Authority’s objective to facilitate key infrastructure for servicing fishing boats, yachts and the interisland domestic vessels”.

He adds, “This is part of the Authority’s effort to address growth, improve customer services and enhance operational efficiency and compliance”.

The completion of the project is great news for the local registered vessels as most had to put their operation on hold awaiting their underwater survey to be completed.

The facility has been operating for over 20 years and corrosion had affected much of the steel structures and the cradles. There was major repair works to some of the cradles in the past which was not sufficient to prolong the life of the facility. This lead to further downgrade of the slipway to 200 tonnes and later to 100 tonnes.

The project involved complete replacement of rails and cradles, and repair of the slipway foundation plate. Apart from the winch which were retained from the previous slipway, the facility is a completely new infrastructure.

The new upgrade was recommended in an engineering report commissioned by Calibre Project Managers Ltd which highlighted several infrastructure and procedural issues primarily relating to the facility’s age and lack of maintenance.

At the completion of the upgrade, the capacity of the slipway will be restored to 300 tonnes which means that the MV ‘Onemato, MV Vaomapa as well as the Authority’s Tug Boats Hifofua and Olovaha will no longer need to travel to Fiji for their annual underwater survey. This is a major savings for the local vessel owners including Ports Authority.

This slipway will operate temporarily for the next 10-15 years in accordance with the Master Plan while the Authority pursuit a new area to relocate the slipway to. This means that the size and capacity of the future slipway will increase to be able to slip larger vessels in Tonga such as the MV ‘Otuamotuanga’ofa and MV Taka – ‘I- Pomana. This will assist the domestic shipping agents greatly as they can reduce their expenses from having to travel to Fiji for their annual dry docking services.

The provision of a proper and safer slipping facility is an essential service which underpins the Authority’s obligation to its customers. The increased capacity of the new slipping facility, requires well trained and experienced personnel, furnished with the right tools and equipment. In the future, the Authority plans to train the slipway staff to conduct the repair and maintenance services. The total estimated value of the project is $700k.

The Authority acknowledges the project contractor, Fletcher Royco Joint Venture who implemented the upgrade works as well as Calibre Project Managers for supervising the project.