An aerial photo taken on May 4, 2022, shows the Chinese-built athletic track and the football pitch under a Stadium Project for the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, the Solomon Islands. (Xinhua)
At a handover ceremony held on April 22, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare expressed his gratitude for the support provided by the Chinese government and people, calling the Stadium Project a milestone for the Solomons in preparing for the 2023 Pacific Games.
HONIARA, May 26 (Xinhua) -- The athletic track and the football pitch under a Stadium Project for the 2023 Pacific Games, constructed with Chinese aid, have been completed and formally handed over to the Solomon Islands.
The quality rubber running track is the first of its kind in the Pacific island country.
At the handover ceremony held on April 22, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare expressed his gratitude for the support provided by the Chinese government and people, and spoke highly of those who overcame difficulties and accomplished the project by a high standard. He called it a milestone for the Solomons in preparing for the Pacific Games.
A groundbreaking ceremony is held for the Stadium Project for the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, the Solomon Islands, May 5, 2021. (Xinhua)
The Stadium Project, which will be the main stadium for the 2023 Pacific Games, features seven venues, including the main stadium, the aquatic center, the tennis center, the communal food and beverage center, the multifunctional hall, the hockey field and training field, and ancillary facilities. These stadiums and facilities will be built in the coming year to help the Solomon people and the government realize their dream of hosting the Pacific Games.
Huang Pengfei, an expert technician from China Civil Engineering Construction Ltd., said, "It is the first large-scale construction project since the two countries established diplomatic relations. The construction became even harder due to the limited timeframe and the disruption in logistics because of the COVID-19 pandemic."
File photo shows members of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team discovering bullets and bombs left from World War II at the construction site of the Stadium Project for the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, the Solomon Islands. (Xinhua)
Overcoming the adverse conditions posed by the pandemic, Huang was finally able to launch a construction team of nearly 700 people from China and the Solomon Islands, thanks to the support and coordination of the two governments.
The first difficulty encountered by the team before moving into the construction site was the disposal of explosive ordnance on and around the project sites left from World War II.
The Guadalcanal campaign during WWII had left the islands with many unexploded bombs. A mechanical operation of the construction might trigger an explosion if the war-left bombs were not disposed of properly.
A fire-induced ordnance blast happened in the area not long before the project started on-site with casualties reported.
Huang said that his team did not have the expertise in Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD).
"We contracted a professional EOD team to undertake three rounds of EOD missions. The EOD team discovered many bullets and bombs from the construction site. It took two months before the projects could proceed," he said.
The project now has a workforce of 170 Chinese technicians and around 500 local employees who worked together as one team.
File photo shows Chinese and Solomon Islands workers working at the construction site of the Stadium Project for the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, the Solomon Islands. (Xinhua)
The Chinese technicians also provide training to the local workers during construction to enhance their skills and expertise. The training was welcomed by the local population and the government.
Chinese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands Li Ming said China has kept its promise and continued to provide its help to the Solomon Islands without any political strings attached.
"China's aid to the Solomon Islands has demonstrated its responsibility and genuine friendship with the developing countries, including the Solomon Islands," said Li.
The Stadium Project has laid a solid foundation for the Solomon Islands to host the 2023 Pacific Games and facilitate the country's economic development and infrastructure. It is an outcome of the positive development of bilateral ties and stands as an example of bilateral cooperation as well as a symbol of China-Solomon Islands friendship, said the ambassador. ■