25 May 2022
Representatives from the Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program (SIIP) have completed a fact-finding mission to improve the Buala market in Isabel Province.
The local technical team, accompanied by program officers from the Australian High Commission, met Isabel Premier Rhoda Sikilabu and her executive, as well as market vendors and local community representatives to gather information about the current market and assess what improvements could best help increase local economic activity in one of several scoping missions to provinces.
These scoping missions will inform SIIP’s technical recommendations for improving the size, layout, and amenities of the markets, which will be submitted to the Steering Committee for joint government approval to be funded under the SIIP.
“This SBD1.5 billion infrastructure program is crucial for realizing the economic potential for Solomon Islands,” said Dr Jimmie Rodgers, co-chair of the SIIP Steering Committee and Secretary to the Prime Minister. “The program will work with our local people to build capacity, ensure appropriate designs and create employment. Markets are critical national infrastructure that help to drive economic growth.”
The Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program announced the redevelopment of up to ten provincial markets in March this year, following approval by the Steering Committee co-chaired by the Secretary to the Prime Minister Dr Jimmie Rodgers and Australian High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan. The scoping team has already visited Malu’u market in north Malaita, and will visit Seghe, Western Province in the coming weeks, as well as locations in Guadalcanal and Honiara.
Australian High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan said markets bring people together and enable families to earn an income.
“Australia, through SIIP, is proud to facilitate this program that will benefit every province”, Dr Strahan said.
“By visiting people on the ground, talking to those who buy and sell produce, we can deliver high quality, inclusive and resilient infrastructure. This project will make a direct difference to people’s lives and help put money into the pockets of local communities.”
Launched in June 2021, SIIP has dual goals of delivering quality infrastructure that demonstrates inclusion, climate resilience and local content, while increasing the skills of government and industry to better plan, finance and maintain national infrastructure assets. SIIP’s Provincial Markets Project aims to deliver ten markets across the country over ten years, providing localised social and economic benefits for communities, especially for women.
Speaking to the technical team in Buala, Premier Sikilabu says she was happy that the market is being looked at.
“The market is very important for income generation for my people and Isabel Province as a whole”, Ms Sikilabu said. “Currently, we only have vendors who sell fresh vegetables and root crops. The market does not have space to sell fish, which Isabel is very well known for. Our local women who weave baskets and produce other crafts are not catered for either,” she said.
“I am therefore so pleased that the team has visited Buala to carry out scoping and assessments. This reaffirms the commitment of both the Solomon Islands and Australian Government to examine what could be done to upgrade important socio-economic infrastructures such as the Buala market to a standard that will boost economic growth for Isabel Province.”
“Australia’s expectation is that SIIP will balance the need to deliver infrastructure priorities while also partnering with government and the private sector to improve building practices and upgrade skills, Dr Strahan said.
“This is the unique offering of SIIP – a partnership approach of joint decision-making, and an integrated program of capacity building and construction that reaches every province.”