The remote island nation of Tuvalu is benefiting from increased land space and improved living conditions following the completion of dredging works delivered by Australian-based Hall Contracting.
Hall Contracting Managing Director, Cameron Hall, said that the works – funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on behalf of the Government of Tuvalu – had involved more than 365,000m³ of sand being dredged from a local lagoon and used to fill man-made pits on one of the country’s nine islands, Funafuti.
“During the second world war, the United States Marine Corps dug up areas of the Funafuti atoll for use in building an airstrip. 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,” Mr Hall said.
Mr Hall said that filling in the borrow pits had minimized pollution and improved hygiene levels on the atoll, while also creating more open space to be used by the community.
“For a small island nation, Tuvalu is very densely populated, so land space is considered precious. 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 also undertook foundation and building repairs on-site, installing new services and constructing a rock wall to repair a breach in the atoll.
Hall Contracting has 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, approximately 30 workers were involved with the works on-site, including six Hall Contracting staff members, four Fijian natives and 20 Tuvaluans.
Mr Hall said as a result of the successful project, Hall Contracting had been engaged to carry out a further aid project in Tuvalu. “The project we’ve been contracted to undertake is the design and construction of a seawall on behalf of the Government of Tuvalu and the United Nations Development Program.”