13 May 2013

World War Two munitions hold up Solomons aid project

5:11 am on 13 May 2013

The New Zealand foreign affairs minister, Murray McCully, says a huge aid project in Solomon Islands has been held up by the discovery of Second World War munitions.

The 20 million US dollar project includes an upgrade of the runway at Munda Airport and the rebuilding of key roads in Western Province.

The work, which is being undertaken by Downer New Zealand, is a key example of Mr McCully's push to allocate the aid budget to economically sustainable projects.

He thinks it will have a transformative effect on tourism, fishing and other business activity in the region.

Mr McCully says they had anticipated some hold ups from old bombs on the runway site.

"We knew that the circumstances when the original runway was put in would have caused a large number of pieces of World War Two junk to be contained underneath and it proved to be the case - a couple of 100 pound bombs, a 1000 pound bomb and many many smaller pieces of munitions. And that work is being undertaken as part of the project. It is a little delayed but it was expected to be part of it."