World Bank representative Almud Weitz speaks, while FSM President David Panuelo and Chief Iso Nahnken of Madolenihmw listen during the launch if the $38.5-million FSM Maritime Investment Project on Nov. 20, 2019. Photo courtesy of FSM Information Service
Palikir, Pohnpei— The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and its States of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, in partnership with the World Bank, officially launched the $38.5-million FSM Maritime Investment Project.
The project’s main feature is the upgrading of the Nation’s seaports to meet international safety, security, and physical design standards. Reflecting the growing trust in the FSM’s relationship with World Bank and the confidence in the Nation’s capacity to implement a large portfolio of diverse infrastructure projects, the FSM Maritime Investment Project began as a $15-million project, quickly grew to $29 million, and was finally approved the World Bank’s Board at $38.5-million-dollars.
The FSM Maritime Investment Project is the FSM’s second largest ever World Bank-related project.
“Meeting international standards lays the foundation for other major infrastructure and economic development projects, facilitates safe maritime travel between our Nation’s ports, and grants the FSM dignity in an area that has been absent for too long,” FSM President David W. Panuelo said in his remarks during the Nov. 20 launch. “The FSM should be the example other nations follow, not the other way around.”
Panuelo emphasized that the FSM Maritime Investment Project is considered a top priority in the Panuelo-George administration. “This administration attaches top priority to this project and related infrastructural development, which can result in benefits to the Integrated Coconut Processing Facility on Tonoas and expand the fisheries industry across the country,” Panuelo said.
The president noted that the FSM Maritime Investment Project—due to its priority and its effect on a host of other development cooperation projects, ranging from U.S. Coast Guard assistance to Japan’s highly anticipated expansion of Pohnpei State’s commercial and fisheries dock—should receive a distinguished amount of public awareness. “I will be expecting frequent reports on the progress of this project,” the President said.
Chief Iso Nahnken of Madolenihmw (John Adolph, administrator of Pohnpei State’s Office of Transportation & Infrastructure) noted the FSM Maritime Investment Project represents unparalleled cooperation amongst the FSM national and state governments in the nation’s quest to “strengthen the sustainability of our economy…[and improve] the livelihood of our people and community.”
To date, a project manager has been hired and the FSM national government has received the expression of interest for a needs assessment for the main ports in each of the FSM’s States to enable the ports to meet minimal international standards.
“We can expect that, with our current schedule,” said Dickson Wichep, acting secretary of the Department of Transportation, Communication, & Infrastructure (DTC&I, “We can have minor works started by the end of the last quarter of 2020…and more significant works commencing by mid-2021.”
Almud Weitz, World Bank’s Practice Manager for Transport in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, described World Bank’s commitment, and excitement, towards the FSM-World Bank cooperation and the FSM Maritime Investment Project in particular. “This is a mix of looking at safety, [and] improving climate resilience…across all four states,” Weitz said. “We’re very happy to be able to together with the [FSM]…it’ll be a mix of hard infrastructure investment, and quite a bit of technical assistance and capacity building…[including] activities taken jointly with the [United States, Japan, and Australian] embassies and their programs on security, search and rescue, as well as looking at elevating awareness and prevention on human trafficking and gender-based violence.”
Panuelo said the FSM Maritime Investment Project is "a wonderful opportunity for our nation to accomplish something that it needs that will have tangible, long-term benefits for our citizens. This is what public service is all about, and I look forward to what happens next.”