25 Sep 2006

Marshalls warned about possible loss of dry-dock deal

5:01 pm on 25 September 2006

There is a warning that the Marshall Islands could lose a multi-million dollar project to establish a floating dry-dock in the country over delays in its approval.

The Taiwanese ambassador in Majuro, Lien-gene Chen, says the company, Ching Fu, has already invested more than 10 million U.S. dollars in the project and is concerned that opposition to a proposed second site could put its viability in question.

The country's Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, refused to approve a first site which was located in the downtown port area.

Mr Chen says the Taiwanese government has put a lot of effort into trying to interest private companies to invest in its allies in the Pacific.

He says Ching Fu may look elsewhere if approval isn't forthcoming.

"This project has been delayed for more than one year and I don't think that Ching Fu will be so patient to wait for any longer, especially other countries are trying to invite Ching Fu to relocate. So, if the government and people cannot resolve this problem as soon as possible, I'm afraid that we might be losing this project."

Lien-gene Chan.

The director of the EPA says the board will make a decision next week based on the outcome of the environmental assessment study which suggests going ahead with the project.