ADB, New Zealand Helping Vanuatu Expand Interisland Shipping

A fifth route is to be added to a shipping scheme in Vanuatu which is connecting remote communities by sea and boosting social activities and economic growth.

The fifth route, which will go to the island Santo, has completed bidding and contract award processes and is expected to be operational by the end of this month.

The new route is part of the Shipping Support Subsidy Scheme, which was established in 2013 by the Vanuatu Interisland Shipping Support Project (VISSP) thanks to financing from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the New Zealand Aid Programme, and the Government of Vanuatu.

“VISSP is reconnecting people in rural and remote areas to health and education services and markets in other parts of Vanuatu and the region,” said ADB Principal Transport Specialist for the Pacific Hussain Haider. “These shipping routes are helping private sector operators to deliver shipping services to commercially unviable destinations and allowing many people in these locations to utilize shipping services for the very first time.”

Since the project began in 2014, more than 150 voyages have been completed to the remote areas of Torres, Tafea East, Tafea West, and Banks, resulting in commercial contracts of almost $850,000.

VISSP is also upgrading jetties and wharves in Vanuatu, improving the safety and efficiency of domestic maritime services, and will spur rural development.

With a population of 314,000 scattered across 60 islands, Vanuatu, like much of the Pacific, is heavily dependent on agriculture, with most of the production occurring in rural and remote areas without access to suitable maritime infrastructure. Due to inadequate interisland shipping services in many Pacific countries, people in remote and rural parts of the region remain cut off from access to markets, health, and education services.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.